11 Aug 2011

Police out in force on British streets

10:30 pm on 11 August 2011

Police are out in force in London and other English cities to try to prevent a repeat of the widespread disorder of the past few days.

So far, the streets appear quiet on Thursday - partly because of the police deployment and partly due to heavy rain in the north-west of England, where some of the worst disturbances occurred.

On Tuesday night unrest spread to Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham with shops being looted and set alight.

Gangs of looters fought pitched battles with police in central Manchester and across the wider area 1000 youths were involved in the violence. The atmosphere early on Thursday is very different and calm, the BBC reports.

Speaking after a meeting of the government's emergency committee, COBRA, Prime Minister David Cameron said security chiefs had decided to authorise the use of water cannon for the first time in mainland Britain, if they are required.

Police have already been authorised to use baton rounds - non-lethal rubber or plastic bullets.

The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, ruled out using water cannon or baton rounds for now, saying the tactics were not suited to the current unrest.

Meanwhile, London Evening Standard home affairs editor Martin Bentham said measures promised by Prime Minister David Cameron may be difficult to deliver.

He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme there would be practical difficulties in deploying water cannon at short notice and the huge police presence would not be possible to maintain for an extended time.

First rioters jailed

Police have arrested more than 1100 people across Britain for violence, disorder and looting since the riots erupted on Saturday in the north London district of Tottenham after police shot dead a man.

The first two people convicted over the looting and rioting have been jailed by a Manchester court for 10 and 16 weeks for public order offences.

Extra court sittings have been held in Manchester and other cities to deal with the numbers arrested.

Three courts in London are working through the night to process the hundreds of looters and rioters arrested. Most are facing disorder and burglary charges.

Trio killed in Birmingham

Three men aged 31, 30 and 21 died when they were hit by a car in Birmingham on Tuesday. The men were protecting property and that a 32-year-old man is being questioned.

Friends of the men say they were trying to ward off looters when they were knocked down by a car.

Tariq Jehan, the father of the youngest man killed, asked the community not to take revenge, but to let the law take its course.

A candle-lit vigil, attended by some 200 people took place for the men. Prime Minister David Cameron said the deaths were truly dreadful.