London: Britons Use Social Networking Cyberspace To Expose Rioting Thugs

10 Aug

NEWS UPDATE: CROYDON MURDER VICTIM NAMED:

A 26-year-old man who died after being found shot in a car during riots in Croydon has been named by Scotland Yard as Trevor Ellis, of Brixton Hill.

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Britons took to social networking sites to expose the rioters

Britons took to social networking sites on Wednesday to expose the rioters who went on the rampage for four nights, posting photos of masked gangs looting and hurling missiles.

Much of the violence, which started in London but has since spread to other parts of the country, was captured on mobile phone cameras, video recorders or CCTV, and the images quickly found their way into cyberspace.

London’s Metropolitan Police made a tentative attempt to use social media to track down suspects, putting up 25 photos of youths breaking into shops and lobbing missiles on photo-sharing site flickr.

But the official effort paled in comparison to the surge of activity by amateur web investigators.

One such project is a web page called “Catch A Looter”, which has been set up on blog-hosting website tumblr and features dozens of photos from the London riots.

Images showed looters walking out of shops with electrical goods, clothes and bottles and close-up shots of rioters hurling missiles.

The anonymous creator of the site urged web surfers to get in touch with Crimestoppers, a charity that allows people to anonymously pass on information about crimes, if they recognised anyone on the site.

But just a day after it was set up, the creator announced the web page would no longer be updated, saying that with the riots spreading across the country “there are loads of photos and I can barely keep up”.

“The beauty of social media is you can put these things up quickly, and take them down again too, without any cost,” he said.

Another, more controversial, effort was under way to track down rioters, with a Google Group set up called “London Riots Facial Recognition”.

Members of the group are reportedly using technology similar to Facebook‘s photo recognition tools to identify looters whose faces appear on the web.

It was quickly restricted to current members of people invited to join after concerns were raised in the media following discussions by the group’s members on the legality of using facial recognition.

As well as using the web to hunt rioters, ‘netizens’ also launched a very British “anti-riot” on Wednesday with a Twitter and Facebook campaign entitled “OperationCupOfTea”.

People were asked to “Stay in and drink tea” and post a photo of their beverage online, instead of going on the rampage. The project was one of the top trending topics on Twitter.

NEWS UPDATE:

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Video: Cops To Get ‘What They Need’ To Combat Riots 

London Mayor Boris Johnson visits residents and shopkeepers in Clapham Junction, in south LondonEnlarge Photo

London Mayor Boris Johnson visits residents and shopkeepers in Clapham Junction, …

All police leave has been cancelled as the Prime Minister pledged to give officers whatever they need to combat rioting and looting.

The Home Secretary has ordered force chiefs to halt “all police leave” to deal with the disorder in England, which has now gone on for four straight nights.

Theresa May has said “maximising the police presence on the street must be a priority” in affected areas during a meeting with chief constables.

David Cameron declared a “fightback” was under way against the perpetrators of the violence and said water cannon were being made available at 24 hours’ notice.

Speaking after he chaired the Government’s second emergency Cobra meeting, Mr Cameron added: “It is clear there are things that are badly wrong in our society.”

Sky’s Martin Brunt says the option of water cannon will not be popular with all police officers.

“I think there are some chief constables who will say it is not a brilliant idea because they are very blunt weapons and they can only really be used in a big space,” he said.

“Last night we saw cops chasing rioters down very narrow streets, the sort of places you cannot use water cannon..it is an intriguing prospect but it won’t be welcome by all police chiefs.”

Earlier Ms May said police have said they do not currently need the water cannon, but that it was “entirely right” to have contingency planning in place.

“It is entirely right that the Government doesn’t rule anything out, that we have contingency planning there for whatever might be needed,” Mrs May said.

Mr Cameron said over 750 people had been arrested since Saturday and 160 charged.

“We needed a fightback, and a fightback is under way,” he said outside Downing Street.

“We have seen the worst of Britain, but I also believe we have seen some of the best of Britain – the million people who have signed up on Facebook to support the police, coming together in the clean-up operations.”

He branded the situation “sick”, adding: “When we see children as young as 12 and 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of a young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear that there are things badly wrong with our society.”

The Labour leader called for insurance payments to be fast tracked.

In a visit to Manchester to see the damage from Tuesday night’s violence, Ed Miliband said: “We need to make sure the local council have the resources to help compensate businesses and families who have lost out.”

Earlier Boris Johnson directly criticised Government policy by calling for plans to reduce police numbers to be reconsidered in the wake of the disturbances in UK towns and cities.

In response the PM said: “Mayors and local authorities always want more money. It is the Government’s job to give them what they need.”

He added that senior officers had reassured him that they had the resources they needed.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Conservative Mayor of London had said: “This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers.”

He added that it would be a “good thing” if Ministers “had another look” at the issue.

But in a later interview with Sky News, Mr Johnson would not repeat the criticism and said: “All I want to make sure if we keep the numbers [of police] up across London.

“I want a sense of safety and calm to be restored.”

He also said people could use “reasonable force” to protect their property but warned against “reckless vigilantism”.

“I’m all in favour of people who in a friendly way are looking after their neighbours…you might start to wonder when it’s being done by groups who are hostile to other groups, we don’t want to see any of that,” he told Sky News.

“I don’t want to see people who are hostile to other people, that’s clearly not what London is about…

“The common law says, you’d have to check…you may use reasonable restraint or reasonable force, that’s seems to be ok…[it] is justified.”

The Mayor’s comments come after an unprecedented wave of disorder swept beyond London to regional areas.

Consecutive nights of unrest in London were calmed on the night that 16,000 police were drafted on to the city’s streets.

The Prime Minister cut short his summer holiday and returned to Britain on Tuesday to chair the first Cobra meeting on the crisis.

Parliament will be recalled for a day on Thursday to discuss the disturbances.

Mr Cameron said the scenes of violence were “sickening” and pledged to “do everything necessary to restore order to Britain’s streets and make them safe for the law abiding”.

A poll by YouGov has found that 57% feel David Cameron is dealing with the situation badly, while 85% believe either a majority or most of those taking part in the riots will go unpunished.

Mr Miliband said victims of rioting “cannot be left to cope alone”, calling on the Government to work with the insurance industry to help those businesses and individuals affected by the trouble.

“As we see in natural disasters like floods, we need focused support so that these victims of the violence get the support they need,” the Labour leader said.

“That means the Government working with the insurance industry to put in place fast track procedures with immediate effect so that individuals and businesses making claims do not have to wait for the money they need to start putting things right.”

Scotland Yard ruled out involving the Army for now but said police were “not scared” of using plastic bullets to bring the unprecedented riots under control.

The violence first erupted in Tottenham, north London, on Saturday night after a peaceful protest after Mark Duggan, 29, was fatally shot by police .

The Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed that there was no evidence that Mr Duggan fired at officers before he was shot in the chest.

Mr Duggan’s family said they were “deeply distressed” by the disorder across the country which has followed his death.

Mr Clegg had earlier said the trouble on Sunday night had nothing to do with the death of Mr Duggan, who was killed on August 4.

NEWS UPDATE:

Looting Suspects Face Magistrates In Croydon

Looting Suspects Face Magistrates In Croydon
A snapshot of the lives of the men and women behind the hoods and the angry faces of the London riots has been glimpsed today with those arrested facing justice before the courts.

Croydon Magistrates had a long line of defendants in the dock answering charges of robbery, theft and violent disorder relating to Monday night.

However, after the angry faces, dark clothing and aggression towards property and people, the court officials heard tales of woe and desperate apologies from the defendants.

Nathan Dempster, an 18-year-old college student of Onslow Road, Croydon, sobbed in front of his mother and grandmother when he was told he would spend another week behind bars after being accused of stealing aftershave from House of Fraser in Croydon.

It went some way towards answering the question everyone has been asking for days: Who are these people who undertook violence, theft and disorder on our streets?

Throughout the day in court 10, out of 12 defendants there were three youths under 18 years old. Two of them, we were told, are in the care system.

Two people are addicted drug users, two people have a history of mental health problems.

One man had a job and a family and had just had a moment of madness, his lawyer said.

However the sob stories failed to soften the heart of District Judge Robert Hunter as he refused all but one of the defendants bail.

Defendant snapshots:

:: Joseph Levy , 41, from Croydon. Pleaded guilty to stealing a bottle of wine from the smashed-up Somerfield shop on London Rd. His lawyer said he took the opportunity to go into the store and grab a bottle. The defendant has struggled with a class A drug addiction. No bail. Committed for sentence at crown court.

:: Jack Lamb , 22, from Staines. Pleaded not guilty to criminal damage of Carphone Warehouse.

:: Katy Lovett from Croydon. No plea yet. Charged with looting Staples store.

:: Lucien Trufia , 29, from Croydon. Pleaded guilty to looting Staples store. Some £150,000 worth of stock was stolen. The doors of the store were burst at 10pm and the fire alarms went off around 2.25am. After firefighters fought the blaze, looters hit again.

:: Male youth , aged 17, from Streatham. Pleaded not guilty to burglary and resisting arrest relating to the theft of a bike worth £240 from Cycle King on Brighton Road, Croydon.

The young man has been in care since the age of 10. His mother is a drug abuser and he has had a number of foster homes, the judge heard. His care worker was in court. He has a young daughter. Remanded in custody until August 15.

:: Male youth , aged 17. Pleaded guilty to stealing aftershaves and perfumes from House of Fraser. Looting took place at the Centrale Shopping Centre on Tamworth Road.

:: Female youth , aged 14, from Shirley, near Croydon. Pleaded guilty to stealing items from Argos including a camera and a games console. The girl has been in long-term care and been with her current foster carers since January this year. Her foster mother was in court. The girl was given a youth referral order and released on bail.

:: Ohene Bamfo , aged 20. Pleaded not guilty to two counts of robbery, theft from a person and violent disorder.

The charges relate to the attack on police by 200 people on London Road in Croydon. Remanded in custody until August 17 by Croydon magistrates.

:: Jean Paul Brown , 34, from Mitcham. No indication of plea. Charged with stealing a football shirt and resisting arrest on Purley Way, Croydon. He is from Jamaica and is not legally allowed to be in this country. Remanded in custody until August 17.

:: James Best , 38, from Croydon. Pleaded guilty to stealing food stuff – cakes and biscuits – from Munchies Bakery on London Road, Croydon. He has nine previous convictions and serious mental health problems. He has been homeless for a number of years and been in a psychiatric hospital. He was remanded in custody.

:: Nathan Dempster , a college student aged 18 from Croydon. He is charged with stealing bags of aftershave from House of Fraser. He did not enter a plea. He was remanded in custody until August 17.

:: Sean Havens , 43, from Croydon. Homeless and lives in a hostel. Charged with stealing cakes and biscuits from Munchies bakery.

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