Report: London police were initially ordered to "stand and observe" looters

Scotland Yard insiders have revealed teams were frustrated at their inability to wade in and arrest troublemakers while they looted and burnt out shops.

They had apparently been told to try and contain any violence but not to haul away offenders who would instead be identified through video footage later, according to The Times.

It was only on Monday night, when the riots escalated still further, that tactics changed and armoured vehicles called Jankels were used to disperse the crowds…

Eye witnesses have told of ranks of police standing by while mobs of youths rampaged and stole from shop fronts and terrorised residents.

However, it has been suggested that the approach may also have been dictated by the sheer scale of the problem with teams unable to spare officers to make arrests on the spot.