PSNI ‘can’t send’ London riot officers (UTV)
Police Landrovers could be sent from Northern Ireland to help deal with serious rioting across London – branded “the worst in current memory” by the Metropolitan Police.
The offer has been made by the PSNI following a request for assistance from the body responsible for managing aid arrangements across all UK police forces.
But no local officers will be sent at this stage due to “operational commitments”.
Policing is to be stepped up after three nights of riots, looting and arson attacks – including the shooting of a 26-year-old man in his car in south London. He has since died in hospital.
Another man in his 60s is fighting for his life after being attacked by rioters, as he tried to extinguish a fire they had started in west London.
All leave for Met officers has been cancelled and the ranks patrolling the streets of London will be boosted from 6,000 to 16,000 on Tuesday night.
Scotland Yard has also appealed to any Metropolitan Police volunteers or retired officers for help, so that serving officers can be freed up to police the streets.
Many shops and businesses closed early on Tuesday, amid fears rioting will break out for a fourth night.
In a stern message to young looters, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “If you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the consequences.”
Following an emergency Cobra meeting, Parliament has been recalled to discuss the spreading disorder in a special sitting on Thursday.
One Hackney resident, Sean Kennedy, told UTV: “It’s literally happening at the end of my road – I didn’t sleep at all last night.
“You don’t go out of the house, or you don’t make eye contact with anyone or do anything to draw attention to yourself – because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“It’s just random kids, 14 or 15-year-olds on their bikes, stopping people on the street just to cause a fight.”
He added that he was more angry than disappointed by the scenes and said he felt the police should use stronger tactics – like the water cannons used in Northern Ireland.
“I’m watching it now on the TV and these kids are just breaking windows, taking games, TVs … because they think they’re entitled to it and they think they’re going to get away with it,” Mr Kennedy said.
“And a lot of them probably will get away with it.”
But Mr Cameron has insisted those responsible will be brought to justice and that court proceedings will be sped up to deal with them as quickly as possible.
Hundreds of people have already been arrested – including three held on suspicion of trying to murder a police officer, who was injured by a car while trying to stop looters.
Scotland Yard has released CCTV footage of rioters – including many who didn’t even bother to try to hide their identities.
“We will have photographs and evidence that we will use to identify you and bring you to justice,” Commander Simon Foy said.
“We will not tolerate the violence that has been seen in parts of London.”
Over 100 officers were injured amid the disturbances.
Disorder also broke out overnight in Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.
Home Secretary Theresa May who – like Mr Cameron – also cut short her holiday to return to the crisis-hit city, branded the events “sheer criminality”.
“The violence we’ve seen, the looting we’ve seen, the thuggery we’ve seen – this is sheer criminality, and let’s make no bones about it,” she said.
As the massive clean-up operation continues, it is thought the total cost could run into tens of millions of pounds.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee has expressed confidence in safety and security at the London 2012 Games in the wake of the rioting in the capital.
An IOC spokesman said: “Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC.
“It is, however, directly handled by the local authorities, as they know best what is appropriate and proportionate. We are confident they will do a good job in this domain.”
A number of football fixtures have fallen foul of the disorder – including England’s friendly against Holland which was due to be played in London on Wednesday night.