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Nick Clegg denies rift with police over riots

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has denied rumours of a rift between the Government and police over handling of the riots in England.

Mr Clegg was visiting Manchester, where more than 100 premises in the city and nearby Salford were damaged and looted during disturbances on Tuesday night.

The Deputy Prime Minister visited Olive Delicatessen in Whitworth Street, a family-run cafe and deli.

He said: "There is no rift between the police and the Government, we fully support the police 100%.

"They have done a brilliant job in really difficult circumstances.

"The police themselves have said they want to review what happened and look at tactics and learn lessons."

Yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron played down tensions after senior officers hit back at criticism of their response to the crisis.

Mr Clegg added: "These were very fast events, they were unpredictable and they were unpredicted.

"But nobody is sitting there as an armchair general trying to second-guess tactical decisions which the police have to take in very difficult circumstances."

Mr Clegg met Tuesday Steel, who runs Olive Delicatessen with her children, Victoria and James.

Rioters smashed their way into the shop on Tuesday night, causing thousands of pounds of damage by breaking doors, windows and glass panels.

The thieves stole a laptop and a stock-take is continuing to establish how much was lost to the looters that night.

Victoria Steel, 25, told Mr Clegg she was at home that night but rushed into town when she saw a picture on Twitter of riot police leaving the Olive premises after it was attacked.

On arrival she confronted a thief who was brazenly standing behind the counter searching for loot.

She said: "We had shut early on the advice of the police but I didn't think that we would be targeted.

"I was watching the news at home and thinking it was a sad state of affairs but Twitter was the first time we saw that anything had happened to the deli.

"Somebody had taken a picture of the riot police leaving and I thought 'I've got to go down, I'm not going to sit around and wait until tomorrow to find out what damage has been done'.

"This business means a lot to me, it means a lot to the community here and it matters to us all.

"It's my family's livelihood.

"I came into the shop, my friend was with me because she didn't want me to be alone.

"There were thugs, gangs on the park, and I went straight into the shop and found a guy in there.

"He was behind the counter, looking for money or anything to steal.

"I screamed at him to get out, which he did, and yesterday saw his picture in the Manchester Evening News on a line-up of people that had been caught and he's been remanded."

Mr Clegg told the Steel family they had done an "amazing job" in reopening their business so quickly.

"I think it's brilliant, the spirit with which they fought back," he said.

"They came here during the incident, they chased away one of the looters, they cleaned it up and within hours they were serving customers again.

"They told me the person they found in here, trying to steal from them, was on the front of the paper, having been arrested and charged.

"I think it's really important that people see justice done and done quickly in the coming days.

"It's important that society shows that, when you break the rules, the law will catch up with you."

The Deputy Prime Minister said there were more people out on the streets of Manchester volunteering to clean up on Wednesday than there had been looting and damaging the city on the night before.

He added: "I think that shows that the best of Britain reacted and cleaned up after the worst of Britain."

Asked by Mr Clegg why she thought the riots took hold with so many people, Miss Steel said: "It's free stuff.

"It's not about a political or social issue, they just wanted stuff for free."

She said she was not frightened when she confronted the thief at her shop.

"Anger is what I felt. But I will not be made to feel intimidated, or a prisoner in my own home town," she added.

"This whole situation is unfair on so many people and it's all for, basically, just kicks for kids."

She said she felt able to stand up to the looter because she felt he was not looking for trouble, just for fun and "pushing boundaries".

"There are no boundaries now. They are not scared of the police or their parents," she said.

"These crimes are stupid and pointless. It's not for a cause, it's not because of any injustice.

"They are just looking for something to do and they jumped on this bandwagon and thinking they won't get caught because everyone else is doing it."

Greater Manchester Police said today that there had been 208 arrests so far in connection with the rioting and 134 people had been charged.

Mr Clegg spent around an hour at the Olive deli, enjoying a coffee and meeting staff and customers.

Later he attended private meetings with Manchester council officials and police.