Cathy Bussey: London has had its reputation put on line

As I write, the capital is reeling from a third consecutive night of violence, riots and looting.

Cathy Bussey: London has had its reputation put on line
Cathy Bussey: London has had its reputation put on line

The events of Monday night were arguably the worst so far, as there could be no possible social or political explanation, or trigger, for them. The riots in Tottenham on Saturday night can be linked to tensions over the shooting of local resident Mark Duggan and simmering unrest between the Metropolitan Police and the communities in which the force operates.

The looting in Brixton on Sunday night can be tenuously blamed on a carnival that got out of hand. But Monday night was opportunistic criminality, pure and simple.

The media are frantically searching for someone to blame. Twitter, predictably, has had its fair share of fingers pointed at it.

So has BlackBerry, as it is understood messages mobilising the criminals - and they are criminals, not 'protesters' or 'anarchists', just criminals - have been circulating via the private BlackBerry Messenger service.

The Government, Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police have all also been accused of either causing the unrest or failing to handle it in an appropriate manner.

Questions will be asked of the politicians who have until now dug their heels in and refused to return from their summer holidays. Questions will also be asked of the opposition - where has Ed Miliband been throughout this?

But while the media and the Twitterati hysterically apportion blame and argue among themselves, opportunistic greedy thugs are rampaging around London and other Uk cities with baseball bats helping themselves to flat-screen TVs and sportswear.

What is happening is a catastrophe for London. With less than a year to go before the Olympic Games roll into town, the city is ablaze, looted, smashed and frightened. The eyes of the world are on our city and what they see paints London in the worst possible light.

Protest is one thing - this is another entirely. This is not about the death of a community citizen/drug-dealing gangster; this is not about Government cuts; this is not about a lack of youth services or police brutality. Since when has robbing a Carphone Warehouse been a form of conscientious objection to a socio-economic situation?

The police and the Government must take back control. They must also show they are in control and provide reassurance to residents, who are both terrified and angry enough to take matters into their own hands.

This whole episode must be ended and put down to a week of 'summer madness' for the sake of the future of London.

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