Police use DNA to trace rioters

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The Independent Online

Detectives investigating the May Day riots are using DNA and fingerprint evidence to trace the protesters responsible for smashing up shops and restaurants.

The officer in charge of the follow-up operation also disclosed that surveillance film had already linked "ring-leaders" involved in Monday's violent outbreaks with previous anti-capitalist riots in the City of London and Euston.

Thirty detectives from Scotland Yard's serious crime group are working with a small number of officers from the City of London Police and the British Transport Police to collate evidence and analyse surveillance film and photographs of the disorder.

Commander Michael Fuller, head of the operation, said they would be concentrating on the people who carried out the attacks on Sir Winston Churchill's statue and the Cenotaph and who smashed up buildings including a McDonald's restaurant. "We have fingerprint and DNA evidence from people who cut themselves getting into premises," he said. "We have already identified ring leaders of the violence and criminal acts who been involved in all the other violent demonstrations in London," he said.

He appealed to law-abiding members of May Day demonstrations to help the police identify those responsible for the violence, adding that several alleged offenders had already been named by the public. So far, 97 people have been arrested, 35 of whom have been charged, in connection with the demonstrations.

Among those who appeared at Horseferry Road magistrates court in London yesterday was an alleged rioter who said he was called Keith Blakelock, the name of the policeman murdered at the Tottenham riots in 1985. The prosecution said his real name was Kevin Charles Townsend, unemployed, of Stoke Newington, north London. Mr Townsend was charged with violent disorder after allegedly ripping up paving slabs and throwing missiles at police. He denied the allegations and was remanded in custody for a week.