The number of police officers on the streets of London is to be almost trebled tonight to 16,000 to deal with the “sickening” scenes of violence of recent nights, David Cameron said today.
Parliament will also be recalled for a day on Thursday to discuss the developments, the Prime Minister added.
Speaking outside Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, he said: “People should be in no doubt that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain’s streets and to make them safe for the law-abiding.”
The Prime Minister flew back into the UK from Tuscany where he was on holiday to take personal charge of efforts to quell the rioting.
Hundreds of people were arrested overnight after the worst rioting in decades as looting, violence and arson spread across London and to other major cities, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.
Three people were held on suspicion of the attempted murder of a police officer who was injured by a car while trying to stop looters in Brent, north-west London.
In a short statement, Mr Cameron condemned what he said were “sickening scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing.
“This is criminality pure and simple and it has to be confronted and defeated.”
While police officers had shown great bravery in dealing with the violence, “it is quite clear that we need more, much more, police on our streets and we need even more robust police action.”
All Metropolitan Police leave had been cancelled and reinforcements called in from other forces, he said - taking the number patrolling the capital tonight to 16,000 from 6,000 last night.
“We will do everything necessary to strengthen and assist those police forces that are meeting the disorder,” he added.
Court procedures would also be speeded up to deal with the “many more” arrests expected, Mr Cameron said, warning young people involved: “You will feel the full force of the law.
“And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment.”
Announcing that Commons Speaker John Bercow had agreed the recall of Parliament, the Prime Minister said it would allow MPs to “stand together in condemnation of these crimes and to stand together in determination to rebuild these communities”.
Mr Cameron said he felt “huge sympathy” for the families who had suffered, “innocent people who’ve been burned out of their houses” and businesses who had seen their premises smashed, their products looted and their livelihoods potentially ruined.
He said he felt for all those who lived in fear because of the “appalling scenes that we’ve seen on the streets of our country”.
He added: “People should be in no doubt that we are on the side of the law-abiding - law-abiding people who are appalled by what has happened in their own community.”
Mr Cameron added: “I am determined, the Government is determined that justice will be done and these people will see the consequences of their actions.”
He said those people were not just wrecking the lives of others and their communities, but also potentially their own lives.
Mr Bercow is returning to London today from his own holiday in the UK to prepare for Thursday’s emergency debate, his office said.
It is the second time Parliament has been recalled during this summer’s recess - the first so that MPs could debate the phone hacking scandal last month.
That was the first recall since 2002, when MPs and peers returned in September to debate Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.