Image: Police restrain a man in Manchester, England
Dave Thompson  /  PA via EPA
Police restrain a man in Manchester on Tuesday as unrest hit the city. Police clashed with rioters across England during a fourth day of violence, which erupted in reaction to a fatal shooting incident in London.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/10/2011 7:22:55 AM ET 2011-08-10T11:22:55

Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that police had drawn up contingency plans to use water cannons if necessary amid ongoing rioting in the U.K.

Every action necessary will be taken to return order to the streets on Britain, Cameron said, adding that the water cannons would ready to be deployed within 24 hours.

"We will do whatever is necessary to restore law and order onto our streets," Cameron said in a somber televised statement. "Nothing is off the table."

While thousands of extra police officers on the streets kept a nervous London quiet Wednesday after three nights of rioting, looting flared in Manchester, Birmingham and several other cities.

In Birmingham, police launched a murder investigation after three men were hit by a car while apparently protecting their neighborhood early Wednesday, according to reports.

BBC News said a man had been arrested and a car had been recovered after the incident at about 1:15 a.m. U.K. time (8:15 p.m. ET Tuesday).

The BBC reported that a large crowd of people had gathered outside the hospital in Birmingham where the men were taken. Riot police were blocking the main entrance to the hospital.

Members of the local community claimed the car drove away after hitting the men, the BBC reported.

Sad truth behind the London riot

Other local residents said the dead men, aged 20 to 31, were members of Birmingham's South Asian community who had been patrolling their neighborhood to keep it safe from looters.

Tariq Jahan, the father of one dead man, named as 21-year-old Haroon Jahan, was quoted by the Telegraph newspaper, describing how he tried to save his son's life.

"I ran towards the commotion and the first guy I found was someone I didn't know. I started giving him CPR until somebody pointed out that the guy behind me was my son on the floor," he said, according to the paper.

"Then I swapped positions and started giving him CPR. My hands were covered in blood, my face was covered in blood. He was a good, gifted kid. You can't explain losing a son. It's going to be hard for me now," he added.

The Guardian newspaper reported that there had been "serious disorder" in the cities of Manchester, West Bromwich and Gloucester in addition to Birmingham with violence also affecting Liverpool, Leicester, Bristol and Leeds.

Cameron: 'Big problem'
The paper said Wednesday that across the U.K. there had been 1,335 arrests since trouble started Saturday, including 768 in London and 300 in the Manchester area.

Image: Map of rioting across Britain

Speaking Wednesday, Cameron said it was "all too clear that we have a big problem with gangs in our country," The Guardian reported.

"When we see children as young as 12 and 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of an injured young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear there are things that are badly wrong in our society," he added.

Cameron, who made fixing "broken Britain" a cornerstone of his premiership, also said that there were "pockets of our society that are not just broken but frankly sick."

Senior officers have said they are also considering the possible use of plastic bullets — blunt-nosed projectiles designed to deal punishing blows to rioters without penetrating the skin.

Such weapons, formally called baton rounds, still are used to quell riots in Northern Ireland but have never been used by police on Britain's mainland.

The violence, the worst unrest Britain has seen since race riots set London ablaze in the 1980s, began when an initially peaceful protest over a police shooting in the capital's Tottenham neighborhood turned violent.

That clash has morphed into a general lawlessness in London and several other cities that police have struggled to halt.

PhotoBlog: 'Stop burning my city'

Residents in various places across the country have taken to standing guard to protect their neighborhoods. Outside a Sikh temple in Southall, west London, residents vowed to defend their place of worship if mobs of young rioters appeared.

The Guardian said there had been minor clashes in London "as groups of vigilantes sought to maintain order."

"In Enfield (an area of London), there was a racial undertone to the scenes as a large group of men roamed the area, chanting 'England, England,'" the paper said. This chant is used innocently at soccer matches, but has also been adopted by far-right groups such as the English Defence League.

Story: MP calls for BlackBerry Messenger suspension over UK riots

The EDL also said that about 1,000 of its members around the country were taking to the streets to deter rioters.

"We're going to stop the riots — police obviously can't handle it," EDL leader Stephen Lennon told The Associated Press. He warned that he couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be violent clashes with rioting youths.

Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to the bombing and massacre that killed 77 people in Norway last month, has cited the EDL as an inspiration.

With a show of force and prayer, London fights back

Authorities said there would be 16,000 officers on duty — almost triple the number present Monday — and said a large presence would remain in the city through the next 24 hours at least.

The show of force seems to have worked. "Without wishing to speak too soon it's been reasonably quiet for us so far tonight," London's Fire Brigade said in a message posted to Twitter Tuesday.

Several usually busy streets were quiet as some cafes, restaurants and pubs also decided to shut down for the night.

In east London's Bethnal Green district, convenience store owner Adnan Butt, 28, said the situation was still tense. "People are all at home — they're scared," he said.

Riots reveal London’s two disparate worlds

Chaos spreads
But outside the capital, chaos was spreading.

In Manchester, hundreds of youths — some looking as young as 10 — rampaged through the city center, hurling bottles and stones at police and vandalizing stores. A women's clothing store on the city's main shopping street was set ablaze, along with a disused library in nearby Salford.

Manchester's assistant chief constable Garry Shewan said looting and arson had taken place there on an unprecedented scale.

In the central England city of Nottingham, police said rioters hurled firebombs though the window of a police station, and set fire to a school and a vehicle outside a second police station — but there were no reports of injuries. A total of 90 people were arrested.

In Liverpool, about 200 youths hurled missiles at police and firefighters in a second night of unrest, and the area's police force reported 44 arrests.

Citizen cameras capture more London looters than cops

So far 167 people — including an 11-year-old boy — have been charged and the capital's prison cells were overflowing.

A total of 111 officers and at least 14 members of the public have been hurt so far in the rioting.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: A tale of two cities

  1. Transcript of: A tale of two cities

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: This has, of course, rocked the people of London , as you saw, and elsewhere, who want to know what it is exactly we are witnessing here. Our veteran correspondent Martin Fletcher , a London native himself, is there tonight with more on the anger and hopelessness that's fueling a kind of tale of two cities .

    MARTIN FLETCHER reporting: It's a painful week for Londoners . We saw this man being mugged tonight. They beat you up?

    Unidentified Man #1: Yeah, they beat me up and took everything.

    FLETCHER: And this YouTube video , a bleeding boy who'd been beaten. Others appear to help him, then robbed him. Everyone's asking why.

    Unidentified Man #2: There's nothing more I can take. I'm really shaken up at the moment.

    FLETCHER: This is part of the answer. This building, 106 New Bond Street , has just been sold for $42 million cash. And what's more, there were 22 cash bidders on the property. It's a collision between two worlds here, the haves and the have-nots. On an average wage, to buy a house it would take a Londoner 31 years. We found four boys looking on, wise beyond their years. Why are they looting and stealing?

    Unidentified Boy #1: Well, they...

    Unidentified Boy #2: I think they just want to show the power that they have.

    FLETCHER: A final thought that may say a lot about our times. In this shopping center every store had been looted but one, the book store. Martin Fletcher , NBC News, London .

Photos: Summer of 2011: Riots break out in UK

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  1. A double decker bus burns as riot police try to contain a large group of people on a main road in Tottenham, north London, on August 6, 2011. Masked youths went on the rampage after a peaceful protest against the killing of a 29-year-old local man by police. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Police officers wearing riot gear stand in front of a burning building in Tottenham, north London, on August 7, 2011. (Stefan Wermuth / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Aaron Biber, 89, assesses damage to his hairdressing salon after riots on Tottenham High Road, north London, on August 7, 2011. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Residents watch as a building burns after riots in Tottenham, north London, on August 7, 2011. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A police officer patrols as firemen dowse buildings set ablaze during riots in Tottenham, north London, on August 7, 2011. (Luke Macgregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Police cordon off an area in Enfield, north London, on August 7, 2011. (Karel Prinsloo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Youths throw bricks at police in Enfield, north London, on August 7, 2011. (Karel Prinsloo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A girl is detained outside Currys electrical store in Brixton, south London, on August 8, 2011. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. People loot a Carhartt store in Hackney, north London, on August 8, 2011. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Police officers in riot gear block a road near a burning car in Hackney, north London, on August 8, 2011. (Luke MacGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A resident films a police officer on his mobile phone during disturbances in Hackney, north London, on August 8, 2011. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Residents flee Clarence Road in Hackney, north London, on August 8, 2011. (Dan Istitene / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A police officer helps an injured colleague as rioters gather in Croydon, south London, on August 8, 2011. (Sang Tan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An injured man is treated by medical staff after being arrested for looting in an electronic shop in south London on August 8, 2011. (Simon Dawson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Looters rummage through a convenience store in Hackney, east London, on August 8, 2011. (Olivia Harris / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Police clear an area in London's Ealing neighborhood while patrolling the streets on August 8, 2011. (Ming Yeung / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Looters run from a clothing store in Peckham, London, on August 8, 2011. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Police stand guard at the Mailbox shopping and hotel complex in Birmingham city center on August 8, 2011. (Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Police arrest a man as rioters gather in Croydon, south London, on August 8, 2011. (Sang Tan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. A woman jumps from a burning building on Surrey Street during rioting in Croydon, south London, on August 8, 2011. (Amy Weston / WENN.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Police patrol the streets as a large fire engulfs shops and homes in Croydon on August 9, 2011. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Firefighters battle a large blaze that broke out in shops and homes in the London neighborhood of Croydon on August 9, 2011. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The remains of destroyed vehicles are removed from streets in Hackney, north London on August 9, 2011. (Chris Helgren / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Aerial photograph of a Sony distribution center engulfed in flames on August 9, 2011 in Enfield, north London. The warehouse was set alight by rioters the previous night. (David Goddard / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Looters carry boxes out of a home cinema shop in central Birmingham on August 9, 2011. (Darren Staples / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. London residents launch a clean-up operation on August 9, 2011 around Hackney Town Hall in east London to clear up after the rioting that took place the previous night. (Nick Cunard / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Residents wait to be allowed through a police barricade to help council workers with the clean up after the rioting that took place the previous night outside Clapham Junction railway station in Battersea, London on August 9, 2011. (Matt Dunham / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. An aerial photograph shows devastation in London Road, Croydon on August 9, 2011. (David Goddard / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A neighbor cries as she looks at the devastation left by the riots in the area of Clapham in London on August 9, 2011. (Elizabeth Dalziel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Police detain a man in central Birmingham on August 9, 2011. Looting and clashes with police continued for a fourth night. (Darren Staples / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. A rioter walks through a burning barricade in Liverpool on August 9, 2011. (Phil Noble / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. London Mayor Boris Johnson, left, talks with Leon Fearon, right, 19, from Lewisham, during a tour of the devastation in riot-hit Clapham, south London on August 9, 2011. (Nick Ansell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Police restrain a man in Manchester on August 9, 2011 after trouble in the city center. (Dave Thompson / PA via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Men angry about recent rioting and looting come out in Eltham, south London to protect their properties on August 9, 2011. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Hundreds of messages of support from the community of Peckham are seen posted on a looted storefront in south London on August 10, 2011. (Chris Helgren / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. People clean up the Manchester city center on August 10, 2011 following a fourth night of violence. (Andrew Yates / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. A police officer speaks to a woman in Birmingham on August 10, 2011 after three Asian men were hit by a car and killed. Witnesses said they died while trying to protect their community from looters. (Paul Ellis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Police officers question men during a routine stop and search operation on August 10, 2011 in Hackney, north London. An eerie calm prevailed over most of London as night fell, with a highly visible police presence throughout the city. (Karel Prinsloo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Police officers detain a man in Eltham, south London, on August 10, 2011. (Stefan Wermuth / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Police officers search the crime scene where Haroon Jahan and two other Asian men were hit by a car and killed in the early hours in Birmingham on August 10, 2011. (Carl De Souza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Tarmiq Jahan, father of Haroon Jahan, gives a statement to the media near the crime scene where Haroon and two other Asian men were hit by a car and killed in the early hours in Birmingham on August 10, 2011. (Carl De Souza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Community members lay flowers at the scene of a hit and run following civil disturbances in the Winson Green area of Birmingham on August 11, 2011. Police are continuing investigations after three people - reportedly trying to protect shops from rioting and looting in Dudley Road - were struck by a car. (Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Metropolitan Police officers arrest a suspect after carrying out a raid on a property on the Churchill Gardens estate in Pimlico in London on August 11, 2011 during Operation Woodstock. Police hope to recover property stolen during the recent civil disturbances in the capital. Police began raiding houses across London to make arrests over the riots that rocked the British capital, with more than 100 warrants issued already, a senior Scotland Yard officer said. (Anthony Devlin / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Metropolitan Police officers hold bags containing a pair of Nike shoes and Hugo Boss clothing including jeans, shirts, a coat and a bag during a raid on a property on the Churchill Gardens estate in Pimlico, London during Operation Woodstock on August 11, 2011. Over 1,000 people have been arrested since rioting began Aug. 6. Police have started to raid properties across the capital as they round up people suspected of involvement in the rioting and recover stolen property. (Wpa Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Offenders sentenced for their roles in recent United Kingdom disturbances, shown August 11, 2011 in these photographs from the Greater Manchester Police, include (top, left to right) Aaron Grima, jailed for four months for assaulting a police officer; Paul Obonyano, jailed for 14 weeks for assaulting a police officer and a public order offense; Bernard Moore, sentenced to 20 weeks for assaulting a police officer; Eoin Flanagan, sentenced to eight months for stealing clothes; (bottom, left to right) Jason Ullett, sentenced to 10 weeks for a section 4 public order offense; Tom Skinkis, sentenced for four months for a section 4 public order offense; Ricky Gemmell, sentenced to 16 weeks in youth custody for a section 4 public order offense; and Paul Ruane, jailed for eight weeks for handling stolen goods. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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