Four nights of looting and arson is enough, it seems, and tonight the police in London are supposed to take a harder line:
Scotland Yard has ordered its officers to use every available force, including possible use of plastic bullets, to stop Britain's riots as London was flooded with 16,000 officers, the biggest police presence in the capital in history.
With early reports emerging of a fourth night of trouble, involving shops broken into and torched in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, some urban areas, notably in London, were in virtual lockdown as many businesses closed and shop windows were boarded up.
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The public should expect to see "many more" rioters arrested from now on, the prime minister said. Parliament would be recalled on Thursday to debate the trouble, he added. Shortly afterwards Cameron chaired a meeting of the Cobra security committee at which it is understood he and the home secretary, Theresa May, discussed the possible use of plastic bullets, water cannon and other tactics. Following the meeting the Home Office asked the Ministry of Defence to "scope out what low-end" help the armed forces might provide.
Any decision on using plastic bullets will be up to senior police officers. If used, it would be the first time they have been fired at rioters in the UK outside Northern Ireland. It forms part of a wider reversal of tactics by Scotland Yard following criticism of its response so far. Senior police sources told the Guardian on Tuesday that for the first three nights of trouble officers in London were told to stand by, watch and wait rather than actively seek to arrest rioters and looters. But after anger from the public – who witnessed officers seemingly doing little as youths ran unchecked, burning and looting– and Cameron's intervention, those orders were abruptly changed to leave officers free to tackle troublemakers in the act.
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In several parts of London local people began the initial clean-up by taking to the streets armed with brooms following appeals on social networking sites. Others were taking matters into their own hands in a different way: Amazon.co.uk's sales charts saw a sudden spike in sales for baseball bats and police-style batons.
Evidently American-style bats are popular in the UK for home defense, and they are selling like mad. This prompted an exchange of comments on the Amazon.Co.UK website, where they sell the Rucanor Aluminium Baseball Bat, between nanny-staters who want to ban the bat and defenders of the traditional right of Free-Born Englishmen to keep and bear sporting equipment.
The thread began with a call for unilateral disarmament:
Patrick Hoelscher says:
call upon amazon.co.uk to ban this item temporarily as it is obviously currently abused as a cheap, quick weapon to be used in the london riots. ban it now!
6000% increase in sales in last 24hours!!!
D. Clydesdale says:
but what about those buying it as protection incase rioters attack their home, mindless rioting idiots dont seem like the type to log on to amazon to get a good deal on a baseball bat online.
Dave in Crete says:
Amazon must show some serious maturity by 'delaying' all sales of this item until the riots are long forgotten....
TSB Note: Easy for someone in Crete to say that. Dave is about 1,600 miles away from the rioting.
Dr. J. G. MCCREA says:
Bat hit people good
V. Wevell says:
Even if they are being bought by respectable home and business owners, they should be banned from sale temporarily. Vigilantism is not the answer. Get these items off the shelves, we are all scared and angry in London and need to know that measures are being taken to help us to feel safe in our Cities again.
Z. Johnson says:
Cracking a dude with a bat who's broken into your house trying to steal your stuff is not vigilantism.
"Usually dispatched within 4 to 6 weeks"
Hope Britannia can hold out that long...
Katherine Ross says:
How do we know this is for rioters.. It could be possible the UK has finally realized the superiority of American Baseball over Cricket..
Elmo Smith says:
Us Americans prefer shotguns for riot control, but I admire you Uk-ians for getting up close and personal with your looters.
Watching the coverage of those riots, I'm inclined to take the advise of Dr. J. G. McCrea. Bat hit people real good.