Hunting down the riot women


After months of intelligence gathering and analysis, police say that at least one woman was among the ringleaders of the violence which injured 28 police officers and 14 members of the public, and caused 2 million worth of damage in the City of London riot this year. Today detectives released new pictures of the people they most want to question, including three women who they say were actively involved in some of the most serious assaults on police officers - often in hand-to-hand attacks.

The special City of London Police unit investigating the riot has drawn up a "target list" of around 150 people now wanted for questioning about serious offences in the riot. They are increasingly anxious to trace these suspects before 30 November, the date activists claim be planning to strike again. The new details have emerged after a team of officers spent the past three months sifting through video evidence of the worst of the rioting. New witnesses have also come forward to report what they saw on the day.

Officers are particularly keen to trace at least one smartly dressed mystery woman who was spotted orchestrating the attacks, although they are not yet able to issue an image of her. The woman, dressed in office clothes and carrying a mobile phone, was over-heard issuing instructions to a "runner" who directed the mob's attacks from one office to another.

Detective Chief Inspector Kieron Sharp, who is leading the inquiry, said:

"There seemed to be a larger number of women than usual involved in the violence on 18 June. I think women are playing a greater role in this kind of subversive activity than you would normally find in criminal activity."

The possibility of a second day of action by protesters - by groups such as Reclaim the Streets, for instance - is being taken seriously. The date has been chosen for a protest by anarchists to coincide with a meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle.

Reports have suggested that groups have been stockpiling illegal weapons - such as containers of CS gas - although police sources stress they have no intelligence at present of any major organised protest in the City or elsewhere. The majority of the suspects pictured today are wanted for offences such as violent disorder or rioting and were filmed throwing bricks at or assaulting police.

Photographs of 70 suspects have been displayed on the Internet. Since the appeals began, 52 people have been identified and 24 arrested. So far, 61 people in total have been arrested, including those held on the day.

Thirty-four people have been charged with a variety of offences and 15 people cautioned. Police have taken 1,500 statements and are following 2,779 lines of inquiry.

Police believe the demonstrators came from all over the country. So far they have arrested people from as far apart as Scotland and Brighton. A few are foreign nationals, but most are believed to be British. The majority are students or squatters. Many were not connected to any "green" or alternative protest group and came simply to fight the police.

In tracking down the rioters, police discovered that the majority of the ring-leaders were men dressed in suits and ties who directed the protesters' efforts from a safe distance - away from many of the closed - circuit cameras.

Mr Sharp said statements from members of the public who witnessed the violence confirmed that there were several smartly dressed people who appeared to be orchestrating and organising the trouble. "The people whose pictures we have released are those we have identified as being involved in the more serious violence," he said.

They were at the main trouble spots and they were the ones who were, for instance, stoning police or throwing bricks or who were engaged in the fighting with officers. We had a list of about 200 people and we have narrowed that down to 60 or 70 who are the more serious trouble-makers. We are talking about serious disorder or rioting." Detectives have travelled to a number of other demonstrations around the country but with little success and they believe the majority of those who engaged in the trouble are keeping a low profile.

The City of London police web site is

http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/

but - be careful: every person who get's on the website gets a unique ID which is sure saved in their logfiles...

and the e-mail address is postmaster@city-oflondon.police.uk.

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