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London riots: Residents demand tougher policing after third night of burning, looting [VIDEO]

London riots continued for a third night Monday and spread to other cities, causing Prime Minister David Cameron to cut short his holiday and hold crisis talks.

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Calls for tougher police action

As many as 16,000 police officers are now said to be patrolling the streets of London to combat the serious trouble, which detectives say is being coordinated via cellphone texts and social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. That is making intelligence-gathering difficult and leading to a largely cat-and-mouse situation where looters have moved on to a new target before police appear at the scene.

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Shopkeepers, residents, and some MPs are now calling on the police to use more force against groups of mainly young rioters and looters, many of whom cover their faces with scarves and bandanas to avoid detection. The police indicated Tuesday that they would consider the use of nonlethal rubber or plastic bullets. "That's a tactic that will be used by the Metropolitan police if deemed necessary," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said.

Until now, police have operated a policy of containment rather than attacking the troublemakers, leading one MP today to claim that rioters were being "mollycoddled."

Conservative Party MP Patrick Mercer said they should consider using water cannons and plastic bullets to deal with the violence. Mr. Mercer, who served in Ireland as a senior Army officer, told the BBC: β€œIn Northern Ireland just a few weeks ago, we had very serious riots, including the use of firearms, where water cannon and plastic rounds – potentially lethal weapons – were used without anyone batting an eyelid.

"They should have the tools available and they should use them if the commander on the ground thinks it's necessary. I don't think we have necessarily got to mollycoddle Englishmen, because we don't mollycoddle Irishmen."

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