David Cameron today warned rioters that they would face the 'full force of the law' as he recalled Parliament, after violence swept across the country for a third night.
An unprecedented 16,000 police officers will be on the streets of the capital tonight, the Prime Minister announced, compared with just 6,000 last night. Today huge swathes of the capital woke up to the charred debris of burned out buildings and streets littered with waste.
Theresa May caused fury today by appearing to rule out using the Army and water cannons to quell any future disorder. Police were last night criticised for being absent when much of the looting and ransacking took place and, when they were present, keeping their distance from rioters.
Today a 26-year-old man who was shot as he sat in a car during rioting in Croydon died in hospital.
After cutting short his Tuscany holiday to deal with the worsening public disorder crisis, Mr Cameron said today: 'We will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and to make them safe for the law-abiding.
'Let me, first of all, completely condemn the scenes that we have seen on our television screens and people have witnessed in their communities.
'These are sickening scenes - scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing, scenes of people attacking police officers and even attacking fire crews as they're trying to put out fires. This is criminality, pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated.
'I feel huge sympathy for the families who've suffered, innocent people who've been burned out of their houses and to businesses who have seen their premises smashed, their products looted and their livelihoods potentially ruined.
'I also feel for all those who live in fear because of these appalling scenes that we've seen on the streets of our country. People should be in no doubt that we are on the side of the law- abiding - law-abiding people who are appalled by what has happened in their own communities.
'I am determined, the Government is determined that justice will be done and these people will see the consequences of their actions.
'And I have this very clear message to those people who are responsible for this wrongdoing and criminality: you will feel the full force of the law and if you are old enough to commit these crimes you are old enough to face the punishment.
'And to these people I would say this: you are not only wrecking the lives of others, you're not only wrecking your own communities - you are potentially wrecking your own life too.'My office this morning has spoken to the Speaker of the House of Commons and he has agreed that Parliament will be recalled for a day on Thursday so I can make a statement to Parliament and we can hold a debate and we are all able to stand together in condemnation of these crimes and also to stand together in determination to rebuild these communities.'
Last night copycat violence broke out in Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol, with further reports of violence in Nottingham and Leeds as it spread from the capital for the first time.
Among the most serious of incidents was the arrest of three people on suspicion of attempting to murder a police officer in north London early this morning. Armoured vehicles - known as 'Jankels' - were used to push back a mob of 150 rioters in Clapham, south London, while dozens of businesses were gutted by fire or looted until shelves were bare.
Children aged as young as eight were reportedly seen fleeing shops with games consoles in Ealing.
Despite 6,000 officers on the streets of London alone, many residents reported a lack of police while marauding gangs were a law unto themselves.
An 'unprecedented' number of police will be on the streets of London tonight with 'all able-bodied officers in the Met' out on duty, said Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh.
Officers from 26 forces outside the capital have also been drafted in to help out as police confirmed that 525 people have now been arrested since rioting began on Saturday and over 100 have been charged.
England's friendly international against the Netherlands tomorrow at Wembley has been called off amid fears that it could be targeted by thugs. West Ham and Charlton football clubs had already postponed their Carling Cup clashes tonight on police advice.
By EMILY ALLEN and ROB COOPER