No excuses for this wanton criminality

By Daily Mail Editorial

UPDATED: 01:20, 9 August 2011

These are frightening times. The global economy is in ever greater peril, with billions of pounds wiped from the value of Britain’s top companies on a daily basis over the past week.

Meanwhile, on the streets of London, mobs were yesterday engaged in a third day of looting and arson, with the violence fast spreading across the capital. Alarmingly, last night, shops in Birmingham also came under attack.

What began in Tottenham on Saturday, apparently in response to the police shooting of alleged drug-dealer Mark Duggan, has turned into an orgy of wanton greed in which opportunistic thugs smash shop windows in broad daylight for a pair of designer trainers or a flat-screen TV.

Worse, the arrest figures show many of those involved are mere teenagers, who view looting as a game to be played out over the internet and Twitter. They have zero respect for the law or the livelihoods and homes they are destroying.

Sadly, for all the bravery of the officers sent out to confront these hooded   mobs, the police face many worrying   questions.

Why, in the obviously tense aftermath of Mr Duggan’s shooting, were officers so unprepared and easily overwhelmed on the streets of Tottenham? Most disturbingly, just where were the police while buildings burned in London last night?


In retrospect, there can be no worse time for the Prime Minister to have forced the resignation of Scotland Yard’s two most senior officers over phone-hacking – a matter that history will judge as utterly footling compared with these riots.

The truth is the Met – now leaderless without its ex-commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and already damaged by criticism of its handling of the G20 protests – lacks basic confidence over how to deal with ugly confrontations.

Many of our politicians, too, have been alarmingly flat-footed.

To her great credit, Home Secretary Theresa May...