Spreading like wildfire

BIRMINGHAM

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Cities across England awoke today to charred debris as major rioting and looting spread across the country.

Copycat violence broke out in Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol, with reports of violence in Nottingham emerging too. West Midlands Police said around 100 people have been arrested and confirmed that a police station in Handsworth, Birmingham, was set on fire.

Merseyside Police said there were a number of incidents in South Liverpool, including cars being set on fire.

Avon and Somerset Police reported that around 150 rioters were in Bristol city centre, with main roads closed and a number of shops damaged.

West Midlands' Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said many of those arrested in Birmingham were young people and urged parents to make sure they knew where their children were.

Scores of shop windows and doors – including sportswear and mobile phone stores – were smashed by gangs as frightened shoppers and city workers looked on.

Some bystanders sobbed as rioters, their faces covered with scarves and hoods, attacked jewellery and computer stores on the city's High Street.

Shops and fast food outlets also appeared to bear the brunt of the violence.

Ms Rowe said: "A significant number of the arrests have been young people, so I would urge parents to get in touch with their children and get them home to ensure they are safe."

She added: "We want to protect the people of Birmingham by restoring order and returning the city to normality as soon as possible.

"We will not tolerate mindless violence and are working to hard to ensure that the offenders are identified and caught as soon as possible.

"An operation is in place with extra officers in Birmingham to restore calm in the city centre, and protect local people and businesses, and we are working closely with Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Ambulance service.

"Our communities have made it clear to us that they do not want this kind of violence in their city and we will continue to work with them to bring anybody who commits acts of crime or anti-social behaviour to justice as soon as possible.

"Our first priority is to ensure that we bring calm back to the city centre.

"The investigation into the disorder has already started and we are proactively reviewing the CCTV to identify other offenders and bring them to justice."

West Midlands Ambulance Service said that by 11pm last night it had received calls about 24 incidents in the city centre, mostly relating to "assaults of one sort or another".

A spokesman said a total of 34 patients had been seen by crews and 11 people had been taken to hospital.

Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer, Tracey Morrell said: "Thankfully the majority of the injuries that our crews have had to deal with have not been too serious.

"The Trust has been working closely with colleagues in West Midlands Police and other parts of the NHS, but having to deal with this number of additional incidents undoubtedly puts an unnecessary strain on the Trust.

"We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the normal 999 service remains unaffected."

The disorder was witnessed by members of the England cricket team in their Birmingham city centre hotel.

The squad is staying in the city ahead of the third Test against India which is doe to start tomorrow.

England bowler Tim Bresnan said on his Twitter account: "Just seen the rioters in Birmingham fleeing down the main street followed by a load of police in the full get up. What's going on?"

All-rounder Stuart Broad added on Twitter: "Police vans all around Birmingham where we are right now."

Councillor Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "We are appealing to people within the city to remain calm and allow the police and others to do their job in bringing these incidents under control.

"To help achieve this it is important that as many people as possible leave the streets.

"We urge all parents to get in touch with any children or young people not currently at home asking them to return."

Trail of destruction as mobs go on 5hr rampage

LIVERPOOL

Violence flared for up to five hours in Liverpool as hundreds of rioters marauded through the streets.

Cars and wheelie bins were set alight on a trail of destruction from the city centre to Toxteth, Dingle and Wavertree.

There were also reports a Tesco Express store was looted – with some of the raiders said by witnesses to be as young as 10.

The first disorder began at 10pm and calm was not restored until about 3am.

A mob of about 300 people, mainly youths with their heads and faces covered, were the source of the mayhem in the largely residential areas.

As the night progressed the group became more fragmented as officers in riot gear and wielding batons, supported by police vans, sealed roads off.

Rioters pelted officers with anything they could get their hands on, with missiles used ranging from golf clubs to bricks and bottles.

One of the fiercest confrontations took place near Admiral Street police station as officers came under attack from a 100-strong mob.

Troublemakers in Princes Road and Princes Avenue also set cars ablaze.

BRISTOL

City 'volatile' as police and youths clash in streets

Copycat rioters rampaged through Bristol last night with police chiefs warning of "volatile" scenes in the city centre.

More than 150 rioters rampaged through the areas of St Paul's and Stokes Croft, the scene of rioting earlier this year amid anger over a new Tesco store.

People were warned to stay clear of the city centre as police launched efforts to bring the scenes under control.

A number of shops and vehicles were damaged and several main roads closed off, with youths setting fire to large commercial wheelie bins, which they then left to burn in the street.

Officers cordoned off the city centre to prevent the rioters reaching the main shopping district.

Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford of Avon and Somerset Police said: "Criminal behaviour like this will not be tolerated.

"We were hoping this type of disorder would not come to Bristol. However we have plenty of units on duty ready to respond.

"Our primary concern is to keep people safe and minimise disruption to residents, motorists and businesses."

"We will always respect the right of any individual or group to take part in a peaceful protest.

"But when disorder occurs, we have a duty to the wider community to do everything we can to calm the situation and restore order and prevent criminality."

Police in riot gear, accompanied by mounted officers, remained on duty on the streets of Stokes Croft to prevent further disorder breaking out.

Workmen then began the clean up and were seen to sweep up glass and rubbish that was strewn across the length of Cheltenham Road.

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