Rioting and looting spread to Manchester and the Midlands from London tonight with plans to prevent a fourth night of violence on the streets of the capital appearing to have worked.
Prime Minister David Cameron flew back from his holiday early to join police chiefs in warning rioters they would face the full weight of the law.
He chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee today, with another due to take place at 9am tomorrow.
Businesses and shops across the capital shut down early in a bid to avoid attack from the gangs of youths who have ransacked buildings across the city over the previous days.
Many firms also sent staff home amid fears that rioters could attack again.
The Metropolitan Police flooded the streets with officers tonight - nearly three times as many as were on duty last night - to quash concerns they were losing control of parts of London.
Some 30 other forces lent officers to bolster the numbers for a massive policing operation intended to put a stop to the horrific scenes witnessed across the country since Saturday.
Scotland Yard ruled out involving the Army for now but said police were "not scared" of using plastic bullets to bring the unprecedented riots under control.
Tonight, the situation appeared relatively calm in London, with a handful of arrests reported in the Canning Town area.
In Manchester however, rioters set fire to a branch of fashion store Miss Selfridge in the city centre. Hundreds of youths rampaged on the streets, leading to running battles with riot police.
Greater Manchester Police said it was engaged in outbreaks of disorder in both Manchester city centre and Salford. Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney vowed: "We will not allow such mindless criminal damage and wanton violence to go unpunished."
In Salford Shopping City, a Bargain Booze off-licence was targeted and windows of a branch of the Money Shop smashed.
Sporadic looting broke out across the city centre, with gangs playing cat-and-mouse with riot police. Officers in vans chased large groups of youths wearing ski masks and hoods as they rampaged through the city streets.
Elsewhere in England, West Midlands Police said they were dealing with sporadic disorder in Wolverhampton and the arson of two vehicles in nearby West Bromwich.
Parliament will be recalled for a day on Thursday to discuss the developments.
Mr Cameron has pledged to speed up court procedures to deal with the "many more" arrests expected as police scour hundreds of hours of CCTV for evidence about those responsible for the violence.
He warned the young people involved in the riots: "You will feel the full force of the law. And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment."
The violence first erupted in Tottenham, north London, on Saturday night after a peaceful protest over the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, last Thursday.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirmed today that there was no evidence that Mr Duggan fired at officers before he was shot in the chest.
Mr Duggan's family said today they were "deeply distressed" by the disorder across the country which has followed his death.
Hundreds of people were arrested overnight after the worst rioting in decades as looting, violence and arson spread across London and to other major cities, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.
A 26-year-old man who was shot in a car during riots in Croydon, south London, has died in hospital.
Three people were held on suspicion of the attempted murder of a police officer who was injured by a car while trying to stop looters in Brent, north-west London.
A total of 111 Met officers and five police dogs have been injured in the violence after being attacked with bricks, glass bottles and planks of wood.
So far Scotland Yard has made 563 arrests over the three nights of rioting and charged 105 people with offences ranging from burglary to possessing offensive weapons.
The force has launched a dedicated webpage to show images of people wanted over the disturbances at www.met.police.uk/disordersuspects/.
The riots have led to a series of domestic football matches being called off, including Carling Cup ties at West Ham, Charlton, Crystal Palace and Bristol City.
In an exceptional move, the Football Association announced that England's friendly against Holland at Wembley Stadium tomorrow had also been called off.