Was it protest, politics or sheer criminality which sparked the riots and looting in London and other cities in England? After a quiet night on the streets and amidst criticism of the planned cutbacks in police numbers, parliament met to consider the causes.
The government outlined its response to MPs recalled to Westminster from their summer recess.
In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron admitted police tactics were wrong and announced new powers for them. He said there would be financial help for businesses but for the moment ruled out a role for the army.
“The acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said to me that he would rather be the last man left in Scotland Yard with all his management team out on the streets before he asked for army support. That is the right attitude and one I share. But it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that every future contingency is looked at including whether there are tasks that the army could undertake that might free up more police for the frontline,” he said.
The opposition urged a re-think on intended police cuts saying the riots had been a “stark reminder” of the need for officers on the streets.
“Given the absolute priority the public attach to a visible and active police presence, does the prime minister understand why they will think that it is not right that he goes ahead with the cuts to police numbers that he is planning?” asked Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition.
The total number of arrests for the riots which started on Saturday now stands at over 1,100. Courts have been holding sessions through the night to deal with them while national newspapers have been naming and shaming some of those held. A schoolgirl, a university law student and trainee dancer are among those already charged.