UPDATED: Channel 4 news explores the reasons behind the riots in London and elsewhere:
They are the worst riots in Britain in living memory. Hundreds arrested, millions of pounds' damage, and thousands of people living in fear about where the riots will strike next.
The violence began in Tottenham on Saturday after Mark Duggan, 29, was shot dead by police on Thursday. But the disturbances have since spread as far afield as Liverpool and Bristol.
But riot experts told Channel 4 News the pressure has been building in the UK for years. Dr Paul Bagguley of the University of Leeds, who researches the sociology of protest, said he had often been asked if there would be riots in the wake of spending cuts, rising unemployment and increasing social inequality in Britain.
He told Channel 4 News: "There's been a sense of watching a slow train crash ever since the credit crunch."
Dr Bagguley said people often have different reasons for rioting but one of the main factors sending them out was very simple: because they were doing nothing else. "They did research in the riots in America in the 1960s and the only statistically significant thing was simply being available," he said.
Will the current economic situation bring back riots in the U.S.?
UPDATED: see below:
The Rev. Paul Perkin reports on being in the middle of the looting.
He writes: “My son and I were in the middle of the streets being looted from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The police abdicated responsibility. It was open season for looting.
The police seemed to have no idea what to do. They set up lines but were like a disoriented army in battle which did not know where the frontline was. The lines were neither containing nor defending any territory.All the looters did was to keep a few yards distance or move a street away while the police stood and watched.
I have never seen anything like it. We were in the middle of a battle against property. The place was like a bomb scene.
There was no violence against people. There was no indignation against police brutality. This was not an angry mob – indeed for some there was almost a carnival-like atmosphere. What was truly terrifying was the complete absence of law and order – this was truly a society without law. There was no breaking into houses. It was petty criminality by looting thieves.
Our church garden was being used to stash the loot. They smashed up shops and took stuff out to hide in the church garden and hid there sometimes themselves. They called up cars which were driving around the periphery to come and take stuff away. (more at link)