Magistrates began dealing with the first of hundreds of cases of alleged rioters yesterday, as police cells in London were declared full. The prospect of housing the extra prisoners outside the capital was raised by John Drew, head of the Youth Justice Board, who said he could offer 300 places in secure units.
Last night, the total arrest count stood at 685, with 111 people charged with offences related to rioting and looting. Highbury magistrates' court had more than 40 people awaiting trial, almost all of whom had been held since trouble flared in Tottenham and Enfield in north London at the weekend.
They included a graphic designer, a youth worker, a British Army applicant, and a 14-year-old schoolboy accused of looting a mobile-phone shop.
Magistrates bailed most defendants, handing them a night curfew and ordering them to wear electronic tags. An 18-year-old man from Middlesex was allegedly among looters who struck a newsagent in Enfield.
He was said to have loaded his pockets with eight bottles of alcohol and 50 packets of chewing gum. "[He] was probably not going to run very far," Terry Lavell, prosecuting, said, "because of all the bottles concealed in his trousers."
A boy of 14 was charged with looting a mobile-phone store. Described as a "grade A" student, he was allegedly arrested carrying "an armful" of mobile-phone equipment from the unnamed store in north London.
The flow of alleged rioters at Camberwell Green magistrates' court in south-east London included self-employed businessmen, young fathers and students with unblemished records, many aged over 25. They were answering allegations of looting variously Vodafone, Curry's, JD Sports, Lidl and Tesco stores in Brixton on Monday night.
Fourteen people were dealt with by the youth court. The adult courts dealt with 21 men and three women including a self-employed car salesman, an organic chef and a university student. For some, it was their first court appearance. One man stood accused of beating a police officer with the officer's own baton, another of taking a crutch to a police sergeant, and a third with carrying a kitchen knife.