London riots: Where were the police?

Business owners accused police of adopting a softly-softly approach which left their shops and businesses vulnerable to attack by baying mobs.

While police were criticised in some quarters for being far too slow to get to riot scenes, officers were accused by shopkeepers in Hackney of standing just yards away from looters as windows were smashed and armfuls of goods were scooped up.

Cypran Asota, who has run the Boots opticians for 25 years, told the London Evening Standard how he watched as the shop was destroyed.

He said police stood by yards away, adding: ‘White boys ripped off the shutters, then a group of around eight or nine children went in and stole the day’s takings.