Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

UK shaken by worst riots in decades

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of a police officer after riots spread across England.

The Prime Minister was forced to return early from holiday to deal with the escalating crisis.

Scenes of widespread looting, violence and arson were seen not only in London, where riots began on Saturday night, but in other major cities including Liverpool and Birmingham. The worst rioting in decades led to the arrest of hundreds of people, as streets were turned into war zones.

Scotland Yard said the three people were apprehended following an incident in Brent, north west London, that led to a police officer being injured by a car while trying to stop looters.

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. Downing Street said Mr Cameron will meet Home Secretary Theresa May and Acting Scotland Yard Commissioner Tim Godwin before chairing the Cobra meeting at 9am.

Scotland Yard said 334 people had been arrested, 69 people charged and two cautioned in connection with the rioting and looting across London. West Midlands Police arrested about 100 people in Birmingham after youths went on the rampage in the city centre’s retail area, near the Bullring shopping mall.

Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said all police leave and training has been cancelled and “all able-bodied officers in the Met will be out” tonight, making it an “unprecedented” number in London.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mrs May appeared to rule out bringing in the Army and using water cannon, saying: “The way we police is by consent.” She also urged parents to take more responsibility for their children – some as young as 10 have been seen among the looters, according to reports.

She told ITV’s Daybreak programme: “There is no excuse for these levels of criminality and it needs to be dealt with. These people need to see that there are consequences for their actions. We need robust policing but we also need to ensure that justice is done through the courts and this will begin today.”

Met Police officer Pc Paul Deller, who was based in the control room co-ordinating the force’s response to the violence, said: ” “We simply ran out of units to send. That’s not something we would normally expose those officers to a risk of, but last night decisions were made that we had to and that’s what we did. We threw everything we had at it.”