London riots: Met Police launch major investigation

Clasford Stirling, a resident of Tottenham for 32 years, said the area looked like a battlefield

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The Metropolitan Police has launched a "major investigation" into the riot in Tottenham which saw attacks on people, fires and looting.

Officers on the inquiry, codenamed Operation Withern, will interview witnesses and review hours of CCTV footage in a bid to identify rioters.

Fifty-five people arrested during the disorder are being questioned.

Clashes have broken out in Enfield, north London, where shop windows have been smashed and a police car damaged.

Riot police were deployed to the area, and the Met Police said "several arrests" had been made after shops were vandalised.

Shops in Enfield Town and the A10 retail park were vandalised and looted from about 18:00 BST and there were reports of two vehicles being set on fire.

Conservative MP for Enfield North, Nick de Bois said police had been targeted.

He said: "We saw an attack on a police vehicle. I saw it from a distance and that seemed to set things off to a new level.

"I think the police have been doing a fantastic job trying to contain things."

Residents said they had seen police clashing with youths in Enfield

The MP said it was clear that many people came to the area "on an organised day using the social media, phoning their friends, in a concerted effort to just move trouble up and capitalise on those awful events at the weekend".

The leader of Enfield Council, Doug Taylor, said he believed the disturbances there were linked to the riots in Tottenham.

He said: "There's got to be a link to that extent that it's the day after and the police are hugely well organised in Tottenham so maybe this was seen as the place to have a second night.

"There's simply no place for this sort of action. It's got nothing to do with the shooting in Tottenham, we're a different borough."

The Met said it has put additional high visibility patrols working across the capital on Sunday night.

Commander Christine Jones said: "We are carefully monitoring any intelligence and ensuring we have our resources in the right places. No one wants to see a repeat of the scenes that we witnessed last night in Tottenham."

The violence erupted on Saturday night and Sunday morning following a protest over the fatal shooting of a local man.

Shops were attacked and looted, 26 police officers and three others hurt and buildings and vehicles were set ablaze.

'Rocked the heart'

Parts of Tottenham are still cordoned off, as what the Met described as "a slow and painstaking" examination of the riot scene is conducted by officers and forensic teams.

The inquiry, led by Det Supt John Sweeney, is made up of detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, specialist investigators from the Public Order Branch, and police support staff.

Police stand in front of a burning building A number of buildings were set alight

Met Commander Adrian Hanstock said: "Anyone who has any information about those responsible for these offences that rocked the heart of the local community please get in touch with us.

"The disorder and violence we saw last night was pure criminality and cannot be justified. We are determined to arrest those responsible."

He warned people not to believe rumours.

"Throughout the day we have been monitoring social networking sites and I'd like to say right from the outset, we're conscious of some really ill-informed speculation on those sites relating to potential further problems."

Start Quote

The police never talk to us, they ignore us, they don't think we're human in this area”

End Quote Jake Manu South Bank University student

He said the force was "actively posting accurate information to correct this".

Twenty-six officers and three others were hurt in the violence which broke out after a protest over the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan on Thursday.

Rachel Cerfontyne, commissioner with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which is investigating Mr Duggan's death, said the 29-year-old had not been "assassinated in an execution style" and that there was "misinformation" about the death on Thursday.

"The distress that Mr Duggan's family are in the midst of is understandable, but the violence and disorder we have witnessed over the last 24 hours can never be acceptable," she added.

During the riot people threw petrol bombs, reducing many buildings and vehicles to charred wrecks.

Shops and homes were raided and cash machines ripped out in Tottenham.

A double-decker bus, two police cars and a carpet shop were among the vehicles and buildings destroyed.

Mark Duggan Mark Duggan was fatally shot by police

Crowds of looters broke shop windows in a retail park near Tottenham Hale tube station.

The front window of Currys electrical store was smashed and the door of Argos was shattered after looters raided the stock room.

Every handset was stolen from a mobile phone store.

Teenagers and adults were said to have turned up in cars to Tottenham's retail park and filled the vehicles' boots with stolen items, unimpeded by police.

Others arrived on foot and piled shopping trolleys high with looted electronic goods, a local woman, who did not want to be named, said.

Shops including Vision Express, the Body Shop and Boots, in nearby Wood Green's High Street were also raided. Two cars there were burnt out.

Politicians have been reacting to the disorder throughout the day.

  • London Mayor Boris Johnson said he had full confidence in the police and that London remained one of the safest cities in the world.
  • Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy described it as an "attack on shopkeepers, women and children".
  • Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone thanked police officers "who put themselves in harm's way" and said anyone intent on causing harm would face the full force of the law.
  • London's deputy mayor Kit Malthouse said: "It's absolutely outrageous to see it on the streets of London. We'll do as much as we can to ensure there's no recurrence tonight."
  • The Reverend Nims Obunge, Pastor at the Freedom's Ark Church, in Tottenham, said: "It is right that this community should have questions they have answered."

Those arrested remain in custody for offences including violent disorder, burglary and theft.

Meanwhile, the family of Mr Duggan said they were "not condoning" the violence that erupted.

"Please don't make this about my brother's life, he was a good man," his brother Shaun Hall said.

BBC crime reporter Ben Ando said there were rumours in the community that a teenage girl who was part of the peaceful protest had been in a kind of confrontation with police.

IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said the investigation was her priority, and would address community concerns.

He said: "That appears to be the flashpoint. That was the moment at around about just after eight o'clock when it seemed that elements in the crowd decided to pick on two police cars. They were then set on fire."

As well as Mr Duggan, a police officer was also shot in Thursday's incident, which happened in what was called a "pre-planned" event, under Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime in the African and Caribbean communities.

Police had stopped a minicab which Mr Duggan had been travelling in.

Map of Tottenham riots

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