London riots: Romford residents call for crackdown

Fed-up Havering residents have called for tougher controls on feral youngsters at school and in the home following the third consecutive night of riots in the Capital.

Hooded youths as young as 13 were seen attempting to smash windows at Debenhams in South Street Romford and JD Sports and Bank in the Brewery as violence spread to the borough on Monday night.

The small-scale vandalism follows riots in Tottenham and Brixton earlier in the week, with a massive police presence in the Market, South Street, appearing to have staved off any major incidents.

Barry Shirley, manager of The Bull pub, next to Debenhams in the Market, said his business escaped unscathed after closing early on police advice.

He criticised the lawlessness of the youths and called for tougher penalties, saying: “It’s disgraceful we can’t get a police force to defend us in the way we need. We’re miles too soft on these people. What we need is to prosecute them and get more police on the street.”

Mother Lisa Martin, 42, from Romford, said she had urged her teenage son to come home from the Vue cinema in the Brewery early on Monday night amid reports of escalating violence in the borough. She criticised other mothers for not doing the same, adding: “That’s the trouble – no one cares where their children are.”

Pensioner Pauline Taylor, 81, from Romford, said she now felt scared to leave her home and in her entire life living in Romford had never seen such violence before.

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She added: “I didn’t think it would ever happen here. It does make me think twice about going out. It’s quite peaceful here usually and I think the police are quite good – walking down the road and neighbourhood watch. But this is scary.”