Calling on the Yanks and cutting off cellphone service are a couple of the ideas Britain is looking at to prevent a repeat of four days of rioting that left hundreds of stores, warehouses and homes burned and looted.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that Britain would look to the U.S. for solutions to gang violence after several nights of riots and looting, and he promised authorities would get strong powers to stop street mayhem.
Cameron told lawmakers he was "acting decisively to restore order on our streets," as police raided houses to round up suspects from four nights of unrest in London and other English cities.
Steve Kavanagh, the deputy assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, said the force initially did not deploy enough officers to control the outbreak of violence. "It is clear we did not have enough numbers on duty to deal," he said.
Cameron also acknowledged that police had been overwhelmed by mobile groups of looters in the first nights of the rioting and said authorities were considering new powers, including allowing police to order thugs to remove masks or hoods, evicting troublemakers from subsidized housing and temporarily disabling cellphone instant-messaging services.
He said the 16,000 police deployed on London's streets to deter rioters and reassure residents would remain through the weekend.
"We will not let a violent few beat us," Cameron said.
While Britain's streets were clear of looters for a second night, the toll of the riots continued to climb. Richard Bowes, 68, who was attacked during rioting in west London as he tried to put out a fire, died late Thursday, police said in a statement. Bowes had been in a coma since Monday. Police opened a murder investigation into his death.
Lawmakers were summoned back from their summer vacations for an emergency session of Parliament on the riots as government and police worked to regain control, both on the streets and in the court of public opinion.
During a session lasting almost three hours in which he faced 160 questions from lawmakers, Cameron promised tough measures to stop further violence and said "nothing should be off the table." He said that included water cannons and plastic bullets -- though senior police have said they don't feel the need to use those at the moment. He also said officials would look at "whether there are tasks that the army could undertake that would free up more police for the front line."
Cameron said he would seek American advice on fighting the street gangs he blamed for helping spark Britain's riots.
He told lawmakers that he would look to cities such as Boston for inspiration, and mentioned former Boston police chief William Bratton as a person who could help offer advice. Bratton has also led the police in Los Angeles and New York.
Bratton said in a statement he'd be "pleased and honored" to provide services and counsel, adding that he loves London and has worked with British police for nearly 20 years.
Cameron told lawmakers he wanted to look at cities that had fought gangs "by engaging the police, the voluntary sector and local government."
"I also believe we should be looking beyond our shores to learn the lessons from others who have faced similar problems," Cameron said.
He said the government, police and intelligence services were looking at whether there should be limits on the use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook or services such as BlackBerry Messenger to spread disorder.