9 Aug 2011

Londoners hit out at Mayor Boris Johnson

The Mayor of London is heckled by angry Londoners as he picks through the riot-hit streets near Clapham Junction.

Boris Johnson was criticised for the lack of a police presence as he thanked members of the south west London community for clearing up the mess left by looters last night.

Thanking crowds of people armed with brooms for a clean-up operation, he said: “That is the real spirit of London”.

“I want to say to everybody who runs a shop or owns a business here how very sorry I am for the loss and the damage you have suffered.”

The Mayor, accompanied by the Home Secretary Theresa May, said those involved in criminal acts would “face punishments they bitterly regret”.

However, some angry residents shouted at the Mayor, asking where the police were as the violence escalated last night.

I was in a salon when a brick came through the window and no one was here to defend me. Clapham resident

One woman asked him: “Where were they? At five o’clock they knew they (the looters) were coming. I was in a salon when a brick came through the window and no one was here to defend me.”

Another asked the Mayor: “What does robust policing actually mean?”

Other residents shouted at the Mayor that it was his fault, calling for his resignation.

“Where were you? Did you enjoy your holiday?” one heckler called from the back of the crowd that had gathered on the ransacked street.

The Mayor returned from his holiday in Canada yesterday after initially refusing to cut it short.

Time of need

Mr Johnson did not immediately follow the Home Secretary Theresa May, who cancelled her holiday as the rioting spread from Tottenham.

The Mayor previously insisted there was no need, adding that he had “complete confidence in the police”. His decision was defended by Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse.

Mr Malthouse said: “Should he be reacting to these criminal provocateurs in that way by coming back? I think that is kind of rewarding them.

“Modern communications mean he can stay in touch and participate in meetings from around the globe.”

However, Mrs May said today that seeing the devastation with her own eyes brought the situation home.

“Crucially, talking to shopkeepers and residents, getting a real feel for how scared they were,” she said.

Both she and Mr Johnson sought to reassure residents that the police will be out in force tonight.

Mr Johnson promised: “Tonight we are going to have a huge number of police on the streets”.

The Prime Minister announced earlier that the Metropolitan Police would be boosted by forces from outside the capital.

Almost three times the number of police compared to last night – 16,000 officers – will be policing the streets, he said.

Mrs May added that all police leave and training has been cancelled, with police putting their full efforts into “not only protecting people, but crucially they are going to make sure that people that have done this damage are arrested and taken to the courts and they suffer the consequences of their actions”.

The Met Police are currently appealing for volunteers or retired officers to get in touch to increase numbers further.

Meanwhile, Mrs May urged people to report anyone they know that took part in the looting and rioting, and appealed to mothers to know where their children are.