More than 200 people have been arrested and 35 officers injured during three nights of violent street riots in London. The violence has now also reached the second-largest city in England, Birmingham.
Riot police were deployed in Birmingham as looting spread through the city. However, the scale of violence in Birmingham is much lower than in London, as no buildings or cars there have been set on fire.
London’s police force is bracing itself for another night of violence, as the ongoing unrest became steadily worse on Monday with new pockets of violence and rioting springing up all over the city.
Police are finding it difficult to respond to all situations at the same time, because a very wide area is now affected.
In several parts of the capital, particularly in the south of London, groups of youths are clashing with police, and buildings and cars are again ablaze. Areas near the financial district were also affected by the widespread looting, RT’s Ivor Bennett reported from London.
On Monday the London riots spread to the Hackney neighborhood, as gangs of youths destroyed shop windows and attacked riot police.
United Kindom, London: Riot police face a mob in Hackney, north London on August 8, 2011. (AFP Photo / Ki Price)
There have also been reports that the riots have spread to Lewisham and Peckham, where rioters set vehicles on fire, smashed shop windows and attacked buses.
The renewed unrest came after police announced that more than 100 people had been arrested on Sunday and Monday in connection with violence on Saturday night in the city’s Tottenham neighborhood.
Police said the rioting and looting in other parts of the capital were “copycat” events conducted by opportunists and criminals.
One of the major difficulties police are facing in trying to stop the spreading riots is that the gangs are coordinating their actions by messages via mobile phones.
United Kindom, London: Riot police tackle a mob after a number of cars are set alight in Hackney, north London on August 8, 2011. (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)
Andrew Gilligan, an editor at the London Telegraph who was himself mugged, believes the whole thing is plain criminality without any underlying political motive.
“I don’t think there is any political motive at all for this,” he said. “They are not attacking the police. They are not attacking official buildings. They are attacking shoe shops and businesses, and stealing what they can carry.”
He believes the police were slow to react initially, and even now, with the help of instant messaging and Twitter, gangs still move faster than the police.
“If this is happening in four or five different places now, it could be 10 or 15 places tomorrow night, or more,” he declared.
Nathan John, CEO of Youth Enlightenment Limited, says the police were entirely unprepared for the unrest.
“I think they just expected it to be another time when nothing was going to happen,” he said. “But unfortunately something has happened. And it is spreading through the capital and is going to continue to spread because there is a lot of hatred, there is a lot of tension that has been building up that needs to come out… [even though it] is coming out in a wrong way right now...These riots are really coming off the back of years of communities being ignored, communities being handled incorrectly by the police,” he added.
Initially police suggested angry youth and looters smashed windows of shops and office buildings, grabbing items as they hit the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who returned from his trip and visited Tottenham in north London, stated that the trouble on Sunday night had nothing to do with the death of Duggan.
Local business owners in north London estimated the cost of the damage ran into millions of pounds.
United Kindom, London : Riot police tackle a mob after a number of cars are set alight in Hackney, north London on August 8, 2011. (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)
Home Secretary Theresa May suspended her holiday and returned to London to meet police chiefs after the situation turned violent.
She described the riots as “sheer criminality” and said those responsible for the violence will face justice.
More than two dozen have already been charged in connection with the disorder, May said.
United Kindom, London : People look at a smashed police car in Hackney, north London on August 8, 2011. (AFP Photo / Ki Price)
According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, police confirmed that the youngest person charged with an offense so far is an 11-year-old boy accused of burglary, while about 100 of those arrested were 21 or younger.
The Saturday riot, which involved between 200 and 300 people, spilled out into other London areas on Sunday night.
Demonstrators began attacking police and setting fire to cars and buildings.
Watch LIVE footage from Hackney.
Watch LIVE footage from Lewisham.