Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

Riots Turn UK City Streets Into War Zones

Riots and looting that have destroyed homes and businesses have spread right across London and further afield to Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.

Police struggled to contain what has become the worst rioting in decades as crowds of youths smashed windows, emptied shops of their goods and set properties on fire.

More than 330 people have been arrested in the capital since Saturday, including three overnight on suspicion of attempted murder after two police officers were hit by a car in Fulton Road, Brent.

David Cameron flew back to Britain to chair the Government’s emergency committee Cobra and meet police chiefs, having been on a family holiday to Tuscany.

Home Secretary Theresa May condemned “sheer criminality” as police and emergency services were overwhelmed by a third consecutive night of trouble.

The unrest started in broad daylight in parts of east London before spreading as darkness fell.

Scotland Yard was forced to use armoured police vehicles to push back more than 150 people in Clapham Junction , south London, as the disorder hit shops and businesses.

Sky News reporter Simon Newton later saw armoured vehicles being used in Ealing in west London.

The force said it would use the tactic elsewhere if needed.

Commander Christine Jones said events were “simply inexcusable”.

“Ordinary people have had their lives turned upside down by this mindless thuggery,” she said.

“The Met will ensure that those responsible will face the consequences of their actions and be arrested.”

Youths also took to the streets of Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool throughout the night in what officials described as ‘copycat’ attacks.

West Midlands Police arrested about 100 people in Birmingham after youths rampaged in the city centre, near the landmark Bullring shopping arcade.

Cars were set alight in Liverpool, and police officers were pelted with makeshift weapons including golf clubs as they tried to contain the gangs.

In Bristol, residents were urged to avoid the city centre by Avon and Somerset Police after 150 rioters hit the streets.

London bore the brunt of the violence however, with more than 1,700 extra officers deployed to all corners of the capital.

The “opportunistic” attacks saw major fires set in Hackney and Peckham. A man in Croydon was also injured in a shooting.

A furniture shop in Croydon which had been in the same family for five generations , in a 100-year-old building, was completely destroyed after being torched.

A massive blaze at a Sony distribution centre near Enfield, north London, also sent plumes of thick smoke across the sky.

Scotland Yard said 334 people had been arrested, 69 charged and two cautioned across the capital, as police officers from 12 other forces were drafted in to help tackle the riots.

In Hackney, rioters, many wearing hoods and masks, were confronted by police lines spanning the streets, occasionally moving forward to push the groups back.

As the clashes erupted an officer could be seen lying on the ground after being struck on his shield by a missile.

Two other officers were left injured after coming under fire from objects including chairs and pieces of wood.

Scotland Yard said between 250 to 300 people had gathered on the Pembury Estate, setting alight cars and throwing petrol bombs.

Looting and outbreaks of violence was also recorded by officers in Newham, Lewisham and Bethnal Green, where more than 100 people looted a Tesco premises and two officers were injured.

South of the river in Peckham, teams of riot officers were seen charging at fleeing troublemakers after a major fire was started at a shop adjoining a Greggs bakery.

A nearby bus was also set on fire while TV footage showed a trail of bins and an abandoned vehicle ablaze in Lewisham.

A London Fire Brigade source told Sky News Online that crews were sent to various other stations to support other crews struggling to maintain sufficient numbers in each district.

Consecutive days of violence came after a peaceful protest in Tottenham on Saturday, which followed the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan , 29, on Thursday.

An inquest into Mr Duggan’s death is due to open this morning at High Barnet Coroner’s Court.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it was awaiting “further forensic analysis” to gain a comprehensive account of the shots which led to his death.

The Guardian quoted a source as saying that initial tests suggested a bullet found lodged in a police radio after Mr Duggan’s death was police issue.

The IPCC will publish details of ballistic tests later today.