London riots: Havering gangs scuppered by high police presence

Trouble-seeking gangs gathered in many parts of Havering last night, but disorder was smothered by a high police presence.

Youths formed small cells of 10-12 in areas including Romford, Hornchurch, Collier Row, Rainham, Harold Hill and Upminster, a police spokesman said, but officers dispersed groups or issued deterrents.

A “small number” of arrests took place for low-level crimes, including spitting at an officer and ABH, but the number was “very low” considering the potential for unrest, the spokesman added.

She told the Recorder this morning: “Although all teams reported groups gathering in their wards, there was no significant rise in crime levels.

“We were on the streets and highly visible.”

Extra Pcs were drafted into Havering, and all of the borough’s 18 safer neighbourhood teams were on duty, with leave cancelled universally across the Met.

A call to arms was issued by the Havering Police yesterday urging special constables to help bulk the police presence around the borough.

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Around 50 volunteers responded, helping man potentially volatile situations.

Fire crews reported a quiet night.

Police were praised by locals, including one resident who filmed rioters attempting to smash their way into Debenhams on Monday night from his flat in the Market Place.

“Police seemed to be very good that night,” said the man who asked not to be named, “and within a couple of minutes of them breaking into Debenhams the police had two vans there and dispersed the crowd and arrested two kids.”

Operation Withern is investigating the disorder and violence in London.

An incident room has been set up and anyone with information should call the Major Investigation Team on 020 8345 4142 but in an emergency always call 999.