Image: A 12 year-old boy shields his face as he leaves Manchester magistrates' court
Nigel Roddis  /  Reuters
A 12-year-old boy shields his face on Thursday as he leaves Manchester magistrates' court after admitting to burglary during the he recent riots in Manchester.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/12/2011 12:00:42 PM ET 2011-08-12T16:00:42

As police in British cities prepared to flood the streets Friday to ensure weekend drinking does not reignite the rioting that swept the country this week, a prominent former U.S. top cop said he was in talks with the U.K. government to become an adviser on calming the violence there.

William Bratton, who as police chief in New York, Boston and Los Angeles built a reputation for quelling gang activity, said he received a phone call Friday from Prime Minister David Cameron asking him whether he would consider becoming a consultant for British police. He said he thanked Cameron for the opportunity and will continue speaking with British officials to formalize an agreement.

"This is a prime minister who has a clear idea of what he wants to do," Bratton told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "He sees this crisis as a way to bring change. The police force there can be a catalyst for that. I'm very optimistic."

Bratton left the Los Angeles police in 2009 and is now a private security firm executive.

On Thursday, as Britain's Parliament took up an emergency debate on the riots, Cameron told lawmakers he would look to cities like Boston for inspiration, and he mentioned Bratton as a person who could help offer advice.

Earlier, a Downing Street spokeswoman denied a British tabloid report that Bratton had already been “taken on” by Cameron as a “top adviser.”

“The PM might meet with him but I wouldn’t say he’s been taken on in any formal capacity,” she told msnbc.com Friday morning.

Police to flood London's streets
Steve Kavanagh, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said 16,000 officers, instead of the usual 2,500, would remain on duty in London in their biggest peacetime deployment — a measure of the perceived public order challenge.

Other forces, including those in Nottingham, Birmingham and Liverpool, said they would maintain a high level of policing over the weekend, although they said that after a couple of nights of quiet they were not anticipating further trouble.

But Cameron's remarks drew a sharp response from the police service, which is facing deep cuts in numbers as part of a sweeping government austerity drive aimed at slashing public debt.

Is culture of mutual respect what UK needs?

"The fact that politicians chose to come back is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that were by then developing," said Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, referring to Cameron and other senior ministers who cut short their holidays after two days of mayhem at home.

"The more robust policing tactics you saw were not a function of political interference," he told the BBC. "They were a function of the numbers being available to allow the chief constables to change their tactics."

Almost 600 arrested in London
On Friday, police said they had charged almost 600 people with violence, disorder and looting over deadly riots in London. Mayor Boris Johnson said Londoners wanted to see "significant sentences" handed out to the guilty.

Across the country, more than 1,700 people have been arrested. Courts in London, Birmingham and Manchester stayed open through a second night to deal with hundreds of alleged offenders, and hundreds of extra police remained on the streets to deter violence as the weekend approached.

Is culture of mutual respect what UK needs?

Hundreds of stores were looted, buildings were set ablaze and five people died amid the mayhem that broke out Saturday in London and spread over four nights across England.

Victims include three men in Birmingham run down by a car as they defended their neighborhood. Police are questioning three suspects on suspicion of murder.

And detectives opened a murder inquiry after a 68-year-old a man found in a London street after confronting rioters died of his injuries late Thursday. A 22-year-old man was arrested Friday on suspicion of murder.

A man was found with gunshot wounds to the head in south London amid riots on Monday and later died.

Cameron has said authorities were considering new powers, including allowing police to order thugs to remove masks or hoods, evicting troublemakers from subsidized housing and temporarily disabling cell phone instant messaging services.

Cameron also said the government, police and intelligence services were looking at whether there should be limits on the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook or services like BlackBerry Messenger to spread disorder.

BlackBerry's simple and largely free messaging service was used by rioters to coordinate their activities, Cameron's office said.

Teen charged for inciting riots using BlackBerry

Little leniency for accused rioters
Meanwhile, portraits of those accused of violence, disorder and looting began to emerge Friday.

They included suspects with criminal records, but also a teenage ballerina, the mother of a 6-week-old child, college students, and a gifted track and field athlete who has served as a youth ambassador for the London 2012 Olympics.

The court system has shown little leniency in dealing with those accused of the participating in the unrest.

According to The Guardian, most judges considered the maximum punishment available to magistrates in lower courts — six months in prison and about $8,100 — to be insufficient for the alleged offenders. The cases were generally referred to higher courts, where they will be heard before a jury.

Few suspected rioters were granted bail.

Eighteen-year-old Chelsea Ives, a talented runner who has been pictured with lawmakers and sports stars in the House of Commons, was charged with rioting in east London after her mother saw her throwing bricks at a police car on television.

Image: Handout photographs show offenders sentenced for their role in recent disturbances
Ho  /  Reuters
Offenders sentenced for their roles in recent disturbances are seen in this combination image compiled with pictures from Greater Manchester Police.

She even boasted that she had "the best day ever," the court was told, according to The Telegraph. In her role as an Olympics ambassador, she has met London Mayor Boris Johnson and London Olympics chief Sebastian Coe, the paper said.

"It was gut-wrenching but it was right. What could normal, honest parents do?" her mother Adrienne Ives told The Daily Express.

In the northern English city of Manchester, 47-year-old Gary Herriot, who has 126 previous convictions, was found with $1,600 worth of jewelry, a court heard. He pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and is set to be sentenced later, the Express said.

An 11-year-old girl in the central city of Nottingham was accused of being part of a "large scale rampage" when she hurled stones at windows, according to The Telegraph. She reportedly admitted to her part in the unrest and refused to apologize in court.

The girl was referred to a youth offender panel and she and her father were ordered to cooperate with local youth authorities, the paper said. 

Reuters, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: London police use social media to find rioters

  1. Closed captioning of: London police use social media to find rioters

    >>> investigators in london say they've charged almost 600 people with crimes in connection with those deadly riots. and they're using some very modern methods to track down the suspects. nbc is in london this morning with more. good morning.

    >> good morning, savannah. well, for days smart phones and social networks were used by those rioters to coordinate their violence. now british authorities are turning that into even high technology against those rioters. across the country, a massive dragnet. police raids on suspected ring leaders and looters have led to more than 1500 arrests. with courts working around the clock, issuing stiff sentences, four months for assault, one student jailed six months for stealing a crate of bottled water and increasing lly scotland yard has cameras on flickr, identifying and finding the alleged rioters. david cameron talking tough.

    >> no human rights concerned about publishing the human rights .

    >> reporter: on facebook, twitter, in the tabloids and on youtube, unprecedented name and shame campaign is seeking to match faces and names. even high-tech facial recognition software which finds matches and faces in a massive police database will be used. with police now in power to remove masks and hoods hiding suspects' faces.

    >> used to during the olympics.

    >> reporter: instead they face nothing less than england's worth unrest in a generation. and there's word this morning now that an elderly man who was savagely beaten when he tried to put out a fire if other night in west london died of injuries-. fifth fatality.

    >> jim, thank you.

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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