(Updates with mayor’s comments. EXT5 for a special report on the riots.)
Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- A surge of police on the streets prevented a fourth night of unrest in London following Britain’s worst rioting since the 1980s as violence moved instead to northern cities including Manchester.
London’s Metropolitan Police put 16,000 officers on duty overnight, up from 6,000 the previous evening. A total of 770 people have been arrested in London since Aug. 6, when the unrest began in the suburb of Tottenham, after a local black man, Mark Duggan, was shot and killed by police who stopped his car intending to make an arrest. The violence has seen gasoline bombs thrown and vehicles, homes and businesses torched.
“You’ve got to ask yourself, could the police have gone in harder, could there have been a more significant display of intolerance by society and the police about what was going on?” London Mayor Boris Johnson said on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program.
The unrest has forced the cancellation of soccer games and raised security concerns a year before London stages the 2012 Olympic Games as the deepest budget cuts since World War II trim the police force.
“If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in the light of these events, then my answer to that would be no,” Johnson said, when asked about the government’s deficit-cutting program that will reduce the numbers of police officers across the country. “I think that case was always pretty frail, and it has been substantially weakened.”
Prime Minister David Cameron presided over a meeting of the government’s emergency committee for a second day. The prime minister, who broke off his vacation in Italy as the riots spread, recalled Parliament to meet in emergency session tomorrow.
Greater Manchester Police said they arrested 113 people in unrest that saw stores looted and set on fire in the city center. Firefighters extinguished 155 fires and about 100 homes or businesses were damaged. Television pictures showed looters running from the Arndale shopping mall and groups of young people being confronted by officers in riot gear.
West Midlands Police, who cover the city of Birmingham, said they’d made 138 arrests overnight and this morning and opened a murder inquiry after three men were killed in a road collision.
Merseyside Police made 50 arrests overnight, as four fire engines were damaged in the Smithdown Road and Lodge Lane area of Liverpool.
In Nottinghamshire, 84 people were arrested, mostly for arson and criminal damage. Five police stations were attacked with homemade firebombs, causing minor damage.
Though student-led protests against increases in university tuition fees descended into unrest last year, this week’s rioting has been the worst in London since at least 1985, when violence broke out in Tottenham in the north of the city and Brixton in the south after the deaths of black women during police searches.
Insurers face a bill of “well over” 100 million pounds ($162 million), Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
The Daily Telegraph said it has learned that the army’s emergency infantry battalion, known as the Spearhead Lead Element, has been put on standby should the civil unrest worsen.
--With assistance from Ben Edwards and David Goodman in London. Editors: Eddie Buckle, James Hertling
To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at email@example.com; David Altaner in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
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