The home secretary, Theresa May, is coming under increasing pressure to use water cannon on the streets of mainland Britain for the first time after a third night of rioting in London left emergency services stretched.
Politicians have joined residents and business owners in affected areas in calling for water cannon to be deployed to curb the lawlessness that has escalated since riots in Tottenham on Saturday, precipitated by the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan.
Water cannons have been used to control sectarian violence in Northern Ireland but on Tuesday morning May ruled out the prospect of their use on the mainland.
"The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon," she told Sky News. "The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities."
But with scenes of hooded and masked youths torching and looting buildings and attacking police officers being played out across the capital and beyond, pressure is growing for more robust measures to be adopted to try to bring an end to the violence.