Violence and looting spread to new areas of London on Monday as shops and cars were set ablaze and authorities struggled to contain the spiralling disorder on a third night of rioting in Britain''s capital.
The worst unrest in London in decades saw buildings, vehicles and rubbish dumps set alight, stores burgled and police officers pelted with bottles and fireworks, as groups of young people rampaged through neighbourhoods across the capital.
As authorities struggled to keep pace with the unrest, Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer holiday in Italy and will convene a meeting of the government''s crisis committee on Tuesday to toughen the response to the escalating violence.
The small groups of youths - most with their heads and faces covered - used SMS messages, instant messaging on BlackBerry cell phones and social media such as Twitter to coordinate their attacks and outwit the police.
In the Hackney area of east London, hundreds of youths attacked shops and set fire to cars.
Trouble also flared in Lewisham and Camden.
It began late on Saturday in London''s northern Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police''s shooting of a suspect turned violent, leaving parts of the high street charred and its shops looted.
As the unrest spread to districts in south and west London on Sunday, and to other neighbourhoods on Monday, some pointed to rising social tensions in Britain as the government slashes 80 (b) billion pounds (130 (b) billion US dollars) from public spending by 2015 to reduce the huge deficit, swollen after the country spent (b) billions bailing out its foundering banks.
The past year has seen mass protests against the tripling of student tuition fees and cuts to public sector pensions.
In November, December and March, small groups broke away from large marches in London to loot.
However, the full impact of spending cuts has yet to be felt and the unemployment rate is stable - although it is highest among youth, especially in areas like Tottenham, Hackney and Croydon.
The police urged communities to help clear the streets of people, and called on families to contact their children and ensure that they were not involved in the chaos.
Home Secretary Theresa May, the Cabinet minister responsible for policing, and London Mayor Boris Johnson also cut short summer vacations in an attempt to deal with the crisis.
May said 215 people had been arrested and 27 charged so far, including an 11-year-old boy accused of burglary.
About 100 of those arrested were 21 or younger and 35 police officers had been injured in the violence, police said.