LIVE: One dead, hundreds arrested, massive damage – now London fears another violent night

Hackney today. Pic: Koos Couvee

Large areas of south and east London were under an unofficial curfew but remained calm tonight amid fears of further outbreaks of disorder in the wake of Monday night’s wave of rioting, which left one man dead, hundreds of people arrested and millions of pounds of damage. 

During this afternoon those shops and businesses in the areas which had survived the rioting on Monday  closed down early in the expectation of more trouble this evening, despite promises by the Metropolitan Police to have three times more officers available tonight. But tonight there were few reports of disorder, although violent outbreaks were reported elsewhere around Britain.

While many shops and business  in London were counting the cost of the damage, others concerns had not even opened for trading and many workers had stayed at home or been told not to travel, particularly employees in the large Government offices around Croydon. Public transport was curtailed and streets became quiet as the evening approached amid an air of apprehension.

The clear up operation continued throughout the day in central Croydon, which was the worst hit area during disturbances which saw outbreaks of arson, looting and violence  as the weekend’s rioting in Tottenham spread across large swathes of the capital.  One man shot in an incident in Croydon, which followed a high speed car chase, has died.

More than 600 people have been arrested for a variety of public order offences and over 100 have been charged. At one point on Monday night every police cell in London was occupied. More than 100 police offices have been injured, including two who attacked when more than 100 people looted a Tesco store in Bethnal Green.

Marauding gangs of youths also caused rioting and random vandalism in parts of Hackney, Bethnal Green, New Cross, Deptford and Lewisham. This morning, Londoners awoke to burnt out cars littering the streets, buildings are still smouldering and shopkeepers and other businesses counting the cost of damage which will run into many millions of pounds. Read all about  Monday night’s events as they were reported on ELL here.

David Cameron returned early from his holidays and this morning will chair  a further meeting of the Goverment’s COBRA civil emergencies committee. The Metropolitan Police have promised that ‘every available’ officer was on duty tonight, said to be about 16,000 with support from a number of outside forces, with all leave cancelled and a drafting in of the Special Constabulary. They have rejected calls that they were slow to respond to the violence, particularly when there were warnings of attacks in Croydon and other places. They have made it clear that anyone using social networks or Blackberry Messenger to organise criminal behaviour will be prosecuted and some Tweeters have been warned that they are being investigated.

Here is today’s rolling blog of news and events as it comes in:

Midnight Update: Scotland Yard said tonight that detectives investigating the large fire at Reeves Furniture store in Croydon, had  arrested a man, aged 21, in connection with the incident. The man was being questioned at a south London police station on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.
Police said that a total of 685 arrests have been made in connection with the incidents of disorder seen across London in the last few days. Of those, 111 individuals have been charged. Most of the charges relate to burglary and public order act offences, while others have been charged with assaulting the police, robbery, possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage and handling stolen goods.

21.00 Update: South and east London seems to be quiet so far tonight with no reports of violence or dis0rder on the scale of last night. Meanwhile we have put together a round-up of comments and Tweets from around the area. You can read it here

18.00: Scotland Yard has just issued this statement about the levels of violence faced by its officers over the past few days:

”At the present time (17.30hrs), 111 officers have been reported injured after having experienced unprecedented violence directed at them as they have been policing London, striving to protect the public, local communities and property. Many officers are still undergoing hospital treatment, some requiring surgery. Injuries range from fractured bones, serious head injuries, concussion, cuts and sprains, even injured eyes from smashed and thrown glass. Officers have been attacked with bricks, bottles, planks of wood and other missiles. In some incidents, officers have been hit by motor vehicles, seriously risking their lives and those of the public.

Five police dogs have been injured as they have undertaken their duties in dealing with the unrest. Linpol Luke, also known as Obi, sustained a serious head injury from a thrown brick and requires further treatment. Marshfield Mia was injured after being hit by a thrown bottle. Both dogs were injured on duty on Sunday. On Monday, Minstrel Blaze, Quirk Ruby and Zach all sustained injuries, including broken teeth and cuts from thrown missiles.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh said: “The level of violence directed against our officers as they have bravely done their duty to keep London safe is unprecedented. We have over 50 officers who have needed treatment – some may even require surgery. Our dog units and mounted section have faced tough conditions and some have suffered injuries also. We are dealing with dangerous criminals; men and women, boys and girls, who are willing to put lives at risk and target the very people that are here to keep our communities safe.

“But this is not just about my officers who continue to do their very best. This is also about the damage these thugs are doing to our neighbourhoods. Local shops and businesses have been ruined, householders have been left homeless and great damage done to our local services and infrastructure. We are now undertaking an operation to identify those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will not tolerate this dangerous behaviour.”

17.30: Here is a Press Association timeline of the key events over the past few days. The news agency has also put together this interesting series of views on the background to the disturbances.

16.30: Here is a link to a BBC interview this morning with two girls in Croydon, swigging an early morning bottle of wine, looted during the night.

16.15: Mayor Boris Johnson has visited Croydon, fresh from Clapham, where he was alternately cheered and booed by local people. According to the BBC, he says police must “deal robustly but fairly” with rioters and stop them causing more unrest.  Johnson says Londoners have “privileges and freedoms that other people around the world can only dream of” and there is no ideological justification for the rioting. Mr Johnson says “London will cope brilliantly with the Olympics.”

15.46: According to the Press Association, the reason for the police guard on Hackney Town Hall, which is on Mare Street close to the scene of yesterday’s disturbances, were due to rumours it was about to be attacked. The building has been evacuated. Most shops on the road either did not open today or have closed down already. Many more have their shutters pulled down as far as possible.

Among the shops closed were two Iceland supermarkets, Primark, JD Sports and Marks and Spencer. A Ladbrokes bookmaker and an optician’s, both hit by looters yesterday, had their windows boarded up.

The tension in the area remains high, with persistent suggestions of further disturbances tonight. James Davies, 36, a shopkeeper at C&C decor on Mare Street said he would shut his store down within the next half an hour as he had heard rumours from staff that there will be more riots this evening. “Our Saturday boy, who’s 17, lives up by Clarence Road and said he’s hearing on BlackBerry Messenger that there will be trouble tonight and he was pretty accurate yesterday,” he said. The DIY store is next to a large bus depot. “Some of the bus drivers we know have been coming in saying that it’s going to happen again tonight,” said Davies.

15.40: Here are extracts from the Scotland Yard statement on the fatal shooting in Croydon:

”Detectives from Trident are investigating following a murder in Croydon. At approximately 21.20hrs on Monday officers discovered the 26-year-old victim in a vehicle in Duppas Hill Road at its junction with Warrington Road, Croydon. He was taken to St George’s Hospital with a gunshot wound to his head, and was pronounced dead earlier today.

Initial inquiries indicate the victim had travelled to the Croydon area earlier on Monday in the company of a group of friends. It is believed the group became involved in an altercation with a group of approximately nine individuals. This altercation culminated in a vehicle pursuit involving three vehicles which commenced in Scarbrook Road, Croydon, passing along the A232 flyover into Duppas Hill Road where the victim was shot.Detectives are appealing for anyone who witnessed the pursuit which involved a dark coloured estate car and silver hatchback – believed to have been driven by the group of nine – and a dark coloured hatchback, in which the victim was a passenger.”

Police say anyone with information relating to the incident is asked to call the incident room on 020 8247 4553 or  Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Two men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of handling stolen goods and later bailed.

14.15: Details have emerged of the disturbances in Bethnal Green last night. As well as the looting of a Tesco supermarket, there were attacks on a number of shops in Bethnal Green Road, with two banks and an opticians suffering damage. In Roman Road, in Bow, at least one fashion shop was stripped of its range of designer clothing.

14.30: Here is a map showing the major incidents overnight within our four boroughs. The map will be updated as we have further information and if there are any more incidents today.

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View East London Lines riot map in a larger map

14.00: Our reporter Germaine Arnold has spent the morning in Croydon, talking to people hit by the rioting. You can read his report here

13.50: There are reports of gangs of masked youths on bicycles cruising around the London Fields area in a repeat of incidents which are said to have occured last night. The Lido on London Fields itself  has closed for the day.

13.45: David Cameron has visited London Road, Croydon, scene of some of the worse violence and destruction. He spent time with emergency service workers and spoke to some local residents.

Pic: Conservative Central Office

13.40: The Metropolitan Police have also disclosed that the use of plastic bullets to control rioter is under active consideration. But Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said Scotland Yard was “not going to throw 180 years of policing with the community away” as the prospect of using the ammunition for the first time at a British disturbance was raised. “The use of any tactics will be considered carefully,” he said. “That does not mean we are scared of using any tactic.” The riots have seen the first use by police of armoured vehicles to disperse rioters.


3.30: Scotland Yard have issued the first pictures of looters in Croydon, gathered from CCTV film. You can view them here

13.00: A ring of police stand guard around Hackney Town Hall, adding to the uneasy atmosphere in the area.

12.55: Angela Phillips reports that the mood around the Pembury estate in north Hackney where there was scenes of serious rioting yesterday is gloomy and rumours are circulating, as they did early yesterday afternoon, of trouble looming. ”There is no sign of anything happening, but shops are shutting down because everyone seems to be telling each other it is the best thing to do.”

Here are some images we have just received taken during the disturbances around the Pembury estate yesterday afternoon by our reporter Belinda Otas:

Pic: Belinda Otas

Pic: Belinda Otas

Pic: Belinda Otas

Pic: Belinda Otas

12.50:  At this morning’s Scotland Yard press conference, Commander Simon Foy said: “Operation Withern is continuing apace. As well as the many arrests and charges the team is working hard to identify suspects. Those who have or intend to go out and commit violent, criminal acts should be warned. We will have photographs and evidence that we will use to identify you and bring you to justice. Today we are releasing the first of many, many images of people we will be speaking to in connection with the scenes of violence. We will not tolerate the violence that has been seen in parts of London.”

12.45: BREAKING NEWS: Scotland Yard say the 26-year- old man found shot in a car in Croydon last night has died. More details later.

12.00: Angela Phillips reports on the mood among the Turkish community in Kingsland Road, in Dalston: ”At the Ali Baba kebab shop, owner Serkan, 29, said that last night young kids on bikes and in masks came round warning the shopkeepers to shut up. It felt like they were protecting the shops they use during the day, knowing that trouble was coming. Serkan says that one kid asked for a kebab, otherwise he would break our windows.

At the Bar-Ish, further north on the Kingsland Road, customer Ulun described how the shops closed early and all the Turkish owners and other male members of the community had congregated on the streets outside, ready to defend their premises. He said: ‘If the police are not going to protect us, we will do it ourselves’.”

11:55: Croydon council leader Mike Fisher has called for army to deal with the situation. He said: “We need additional resources and that can be police if possible but if not then we should be looking at deployment of the army and other military.”

11:35: The Metropolitan Police said compared with the 6,000 police on London streets last night, there will be an estimated 16,000 officers available tonight. Specials have been called in for duty and all leave has been cancelled.

11:33: Prime Minister David Cameron has said the ‘sickening’ disturbances have to be ‘confronted and defeated’. The Prime Minister has called for much more police and a more ‘robust police action’ following the scenes from last night. The Government has announced that Parliament will be recalled on Thursday to debate the violence.

11.15: The scene in Croydon this morning:

London Road, Croydon. Pic: Germaine Arnold

Pic: Germaine Arnold

11.00: Angela Phillips reports from Stamford Hill: ”At the corner of Cranwich Road, a burnt out Mini gave off the acrid aroma of burnt plastic. By 11am it had gone along with all signs of last night’s disturbance. Local residents had heard nothing. According to AnaidBremind onTwitter, it happened outside her house at 11.45. @Hattiegibsone Tweeted that she had walked past the car five minutes earlier and saw nothing. But the general buzz in the corner shop suggested that a group of two or three kids had broken into the car and then set it alight: ‘Just for a laugh’.”

Pic: Angela Phillips


10:56: Lewisham Shopping centre will close at 1pm today to avoid any further damage.

10.40: England’s friendly match against Netherlands, scheduled to take place at Wembley stadium on Wednesday evening, has been called off due to the violent disorder. Tonight’s Carling Cup matches at West Ham, Crystal Palace and Charlton have also been called off on police advice.

10.30 Big clear up under way in Hackney this morning: In the same way that social networks have been used to co-ordinate rioters, today they are being used to co-ordinate the clean up.

09.30: Diana Abbott, the MP for Hackney north, has said a London-wide curfew should be considered tonight.

09.00: Amid the destruction in Croydon last night, a man was shot and seriously wounded. It is not know whether it is connected to the rioting, but here is the early report from the Evening Standard website

08.50: Some stations that were closed last night are now open. Because of the fire at Reeves Corner, Croydon Tramlink is not running through central Croydon but it is running outwards from East Croydon.

6.30: Pernille Hilton reports from Hackney: ”The rioters and young kids roaming the streets last night are gone but it is with worry and tired eyes that the locals of Hackney start their day. The buses, cars and cyclists are driving slowly through the borough avoiding the smashed windows and random looted goods that is still lying spread across the streets.

A 43-old-nurse women waiting for the bus said: ”I feel fine. But is was a bit worrying not knowing what you would be waking up to.” Pete, 23, an art director and graphic designer said: “I don’t quite know how to feel I guess we will see how this day turns out.”  Claire Trindle, 31, who  works in a cafe in Islington said: “I feel tired. I was up all night watching the news not sure if I wanted to go to bed in case more fires broke out.”

Many of the local food and supermarkets would normally be getting ready to open, but this morning many of them are still closed. A few have started to sweep the pavement and carefully pull up the shutters and step out into the streets. But, somehow the awful scenes witnessed during night seems to have brought people on the bus together – for the first time in a long time they are smiling  and talking to each other.”

One Hackney resident, Catherine Holmes told the BBC: “Our community has been hurt and damaged by causeless violence. We spoke to looters trying to get home – the only explanation they gave for their behaviour was that they had no money.”

Reporting team: Angela Phillips, Koos Couvee, Ema Globyte, Germaine Arnold, Barbara Hilton, Belinda Otas

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