It’s been burning for three days now. 215 people have been arrested so far, but the riots are spreading, not shrinking.

It started as a peaceful protest of a police shooting, but that’s not how it’ll end:

“It’s been building up for years. All it needed was a spark,” said E. Nan, a young man in a baseball cap surrounded by other youths in Hackney in east London. “We ain’t got no jobs, no money … We heard that other people were getting things for free, so why not us?”…

By Monday, the violence had spread to parts of the south of the city, including Clapham Junction, one of London’s busiest railway junctions, Woolwich in the capital’s southeast and the Ealing area of west London.

Attackers also smashed shops and looted property in the city of Birmingham in central England, police said, in the first sign of the riots spreading beyond the capital…

“It’s very sad to see … But kids have got no work, no future and the cuts have made it worse. These kids are from another generation to us and they just don’t care,” said Anthony Burns, 39, an electrician from Hackney. “You watch. It’s only just begun.”

It seems like just yesterday that young Brits were rampaging through the streets of London in response to budget cuts and screaming “off with their heads” at Prince Charles and his wife. A reporter from Sky News was on the scene in Clapham Junction, where the third video below was taken, and claims he can’t find any police there. The force is so overwhelmed, apparently, that they simply have no presence in some of the affected areas. How long, I wonder, before we see British troops in the streets.

Rather than have me blather at you, open up a couple of tabs and follow the BBC’s and the Telegraph’s liveblogs, which are riveting. The BBC’s, in particular, really does make it sound as though the whole city is being sacked. Exit question via Jim Treacher: Remember when MSNBC hack Martin Bashir marveled at how orderly and dignified British crowds were compared to their troglodytic American cousins? Yeah.

Update: A point made in both the BBC’s and the Telegraph’s coverage: It looks like some rioters are coordinating via Blackberry. Someone on Twitter quoted by the Beeb is calling for Research In Motion to pull the plug on their text service in the UK until the riots are over. See this Tech Crunch Europe piece for more.

Update: It’s come to this.