Vigilantes join 16,000 police on capital's streets

 

Shop owners across London vowed to protect their own businesses as anger over the police's inability to stop widespread looting pushed them towards setting up their own neighbourhood vigilante groups.

Inspired by reports of Turkish and Bangladeshi groups chasing would-be looters out of their neighbourhoods in east London, many shop keepers took to the streets to deter looters. Hundreds of Sikhs turned out in the Southall area last night in a collective show of force after rumours circulated that jewellery shops were going to be targeted.

In Enfield, sporadic chases occurred between a large group of people in their thirties and masked youths. Residents said they were out in a "show of strength." No violence was reported in either borough.

The news that shopkeepers were fighting back came as police investigating a large fire which destroyed The House of Reeves furniture store in Croydon arrested a man on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. The 21-year-old suspect was detained by officers last night and is being held at a south London police station, police said. And while most of the capital was quiet, it was reported at 1am that a recycling centre in Tottenham was on fire.

Many others said yesterday they too would defend their livelihoods if rioting erupted in the capital again. "We're planning to get together and defend our streets," said one 32-year-old shopkeeper from Hackney, who asked not to be named. "I don't want to take the law into my own hands but if I have to, I will."

Pictures of Monday night's rioting mainly showed police and locals conceding the streets to baying mobs which trashed shops and set fire to cars or buildings with near impunity. Yet there were instances where locals physically resisted the looters.

In Dalston, a corner of north-east London with a large Turkish community, men armed with baseball bats and sticks fought running battles with masked youths. Shop owners in Dalston said they felt compelled to arm themselves because it was clear there weren't enough police to protect the area. Many of the businesses on Kingsland Road, Dalston's main thoroughfare, do not have shutters protecting their windows and are therefore vulnerable to vandals.

"There were no police so we came out to defend ourselves," said a shopkeeper who gave only his first name, Mehmet. "I don't know if it's breaking the law but what can we do?" he asked.

In the more affluent neighbourhood of Stoke Newington further north – an area filled with boutique shops and independent retailers – there was widespread praise for Turkish people who stopped rioters.

In Whitechapel, home to Britain's largest Bangladeshi population, locals described how 70 masked rioters were chased out of the neighbourhood by Bengali youths who had gathered for evening prayers outside East London Mosque.

"There's a real sense of community here, especially during Ramadan when people are supposed to look out for each other," said Abdul Jalil, the manager of the Deshi Fish grocery store opposite the mosque. "The shutters will come down this evening but I'm going to stick around in case the rioters come into the area again."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory