Police raid homes of riot suspects

By Tom Morgan
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:57

England's smash-and-grabbers were getting a dose of their own medicine today.

Suspects wanted over violence were being raided throughout the day as the police fightback began.

Designer clothes worth thousands of pounds were recovered from one flat alone as the first of hundreds of anticipated raids kicked off.

At one operation briefing, a Scotland Yard police chief ordered officers to keep the horror sustained by Britons in mind as they hit back in a firm but "legally robust" manner.

Intelligence-led swoops by 50 officers followed violent scenes in Sloane Square on Monday, where up to a million pounds-worth of damage was caused.

A Hugo Boss shop was the target of about 40 looters who emptied the store of its contents on Tuesday.

In response, four arrests were made today as suspects were dragged from their homes during searches in Pimlico, central London.

The Scotland Yard officer leading raids at the Churchill Gardens Estate said he was proud of his officers' quick response.

Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens, who has been home for just three hours since the violence escalated, added: "The level of violence on Monday was as bad as I have seen.

"The public have been supporting us all the way and I am proud of the response by our officers."

One 18-year-old man screamed at officers as he was bundled into a police van in handcuffs after more than £1,000-worth of clothing was found in his flat.

Brand new Nike Air Jordan trainers, along with Hugo Boss jackets, jeans, belts and bags were taken away from his flat.

A 29-year-old neighbour on the housing estate protested his innocence as he was also taken away for questioning after officers burst through the door of his flat.

When asked what he thought of events on Monday night, he said: "I think it's horrendous. I'm 29, I would not do anything like this."

One officer in the raids said overall crime had "plunged" in recent days with so many officers on the streets.

"It makes you wonder about those Government cuts to officer numbers," he added.

A total of £1,600 in cash and £5,000 worth of property was recovered during raids in Pimlico alone, Mr Ovens said.

He added: "We will relentlessly pursue these levels of violence."

Many of the looters will also face eviction from council homes if they are convicted.

Jonathan Glanz, a City of Westminster Council cabinet member for housing, observed the raids this morning.

He said: "We will take whatever action is necessary to make sure these people are evicted for the sake of the vast majority of people who play by the rules."

Anne Edhouse, 84, was among shocked neighbours who watched the raids unfold.

She came out of her flat to congratulate officers for their efforts before adding: "I have lived here for 46 years and nothing has shocked me more than what happened on Monday night. It's so depressing.

"I'm not sure what I think of the council kicking these people out. Not sure how that would help."

Another eight homes in Lambeth were raided. Officers made a number of arrests during simultaneous searched in Brixton.

At one address officers recovered clothing and an iPod suspected of being stolen during the disorder seen earlier in the week.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sedgemore said: "The type of criminality we witnessed was simply unacceptable. Today we fulfilled a promise to those involved in the disorder, burglary and violence we saw on the streets on London, that the MPS would start to identify and continue to arrest them.

"We just will not tolerate the violence that has been seen."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh said Scotland Yard is in the process of "working through" more than 100 warrants.

"With so many officers on duty we want to use their time by going out there and arresting burglars, robbers and thieves - those people who cause concern and crime in our communities," he added.