600 Charged, Arrests Rise to 1,700 in British Riots

Posted August 12th, 2011 at 10:15 am (UTC-5)
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Police in London say they have charged almost 600 people with violence, disorder and looting after almost a week of deadly rioting in the capital and other British cities.

Authorities have arrested more than 1,700 people across the country, and courts were in session throughout the night Thursday to deal with a massive backlog of cases.

Five people have died, buildings and cars have been burned and hundreds of stores looted since the rioting broke out Saturday. The violence followed the fatal police shooting of a 29-year-old man in London's economically depressed Tottenham neighborhood last week.

There were no major incidents overnight Thursday, and 16,000 police officers will remain on duty in London through the coming days. That is the biggest peacetime deployment of the Metropolitan Police and compares with a normal figure of around 2,500.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was initially critical of the police response to the riots. But he has since acknowledged that police had been overwhelmed by the mobile groups of looters in the first nights of rioting. He approved a higher police presence in London, and said he would consider calling in the army to help.

Mr. Cameron said Thursday he would look to the United States for solutions to gang violence, seeking advice from U.S. cities that have fought gangs, including Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

He also told an emergency session of parliament that authorities are considering disabling social networking websites that rioters have used to coordinate their activity.

Police said early Friday a 68-year-old man who was attacked during the riots has become the fifth fatality of the unrest.