10:04am Tuesday 9th August 2011
By Leigh Marles
WIRRAL political, police and civic leaders have held talks in the aftermath of the copycat riots that flared in Liverpool last night.
Hundreds of rioters marauded for up to five hours through the streets to the south of the city centre mirroring chaotic scenes in London, Nottingham Birmingham and Bristol. Order was not returned until around 3am.
Early this morning, Wirral police and political heads met to assess the impact and ascertain if there was any risk to the borough.
Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes explained the authority's chief executive Jim Wilkie has met with police area commander John Martin for a "full briefing" following the disturbances.
He said: "We have offered the police our full help and assitance in any way we can.
"Obviously we are conscious that Wirral could ill-afford to see disturbances such as other areas have witnessed - that sort of threat to our local economy would be criminal at this stage.
"The riots appear to be a mix of criminality coupled with spontaneous anger; it would be foolish to try to guess as to their cause at this stage.
"In times of recession things can become volatile and we will be working with our police force to try to ensure it dies down quickly."
Wirral West MP Esther McVey, remembering the Toxteth riots of 1981, said: "The situation was completely different then than it is now.
"This time there has been a large criminal element who are doing nothing more than destroying their own communities.
"But everybody will have to ask themselves questions. Parents, teachers, the media and politicians. Everyone needs to look at what they have been saying.
"We have heard union leaders and Opposition MPs earlier this year urging industrial action and what one said was 'a call to arms'. Words can be very powerful."
Across the river, cars and wheelie bins were set alight on a trail of destruction which stretched from the city centre to Toxteth, Dingle and Wavertree.
The first reports of disorder came in at 10pm on Monday and calm was not restored until about 3am.
Police appeared to largely combat what they labelled "isolated outbreaks of disorder" by attempting to contain the troublemakers rather than charge into running battles.
A mob of about 300 people, mainly youths with their heads and faces covered, were the source of the mayhem in the largely residential areas.
Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward said: "Officer have tonight dealt with a small number of incidents of violence across the city.
"We will not tolerate any violence on the streets of Liverpool and have taken swift and robust action in response.
"We will work hard to ensure the people involved in the incidents are brought to justice.
"Merseyside Police has good links with communities across the region and over the last two days we have worked closely with residents to assess tensions within the community.
"We will continue to work with community leaders across the region to ensure an appropriate response to any incidents that occur."
The violence spread after a peaceful protest in Tottenham on Saturday, which followed the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, on Thursday.
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