09/08/2011 15:36 BST | Updated 09/10/2011 06:12 BST

Riots Hit Manchester City Centre As Gangs Set Shops Ablaze

Hundreds of people have rioted and looted shops in Manchester city centre as towns across the UK suffer a fourth day of violence by gangs of violent youths.

Rioters burned and ransacked shops on Market Street in the city's central shopping area including Miss Selfridge, before attempting to break into the Arndale Centre.

The gangs then moved to New Cathedral Street according to reports, and attacked Harvey Nicks, Selfridges and Ugg, among other shops.


Hundreds of youths proceeded down the street trying to force their way inside the stores, while riot police tried to herd crowds from Piccadilly Gardens who tried to throw bricks and other missiles at officers.

Around 100 people looted Foot Asylum, smashing the glass shop front before carrying out shoes and bags.

There were reports the gangs then split up into four or five co-ordinated groups and attacked bystanders taking photographs.

Some eyewitnesses criticised the police response.

"It's pathetic," said Gary Gray, a Manchester resident who tweeted pictures from the scene and spoke to The Huffington Post UK as the disturbances continued. "There's 16,000 police in London, leaving everyone else short. And there's hundreds of people ransacking Manchester... The mass mob has broken into four or five smaller gangs, all communicating with each other, all well organised... The police haven't got a chance of getting it under control."

The violence was also reported to be worsening as night fell, with officers struggling to get the situation under control.

Earlier Manchester police had said the violence was isolated and on a small scale.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: "A handful of shops have been attacked by groups of youths who have congregated and seem intent on committing disorder.

"As we have said, we will not allow such mindless criminal damage and wanton violence to go unpunished and we will arrest and prosecute anyone found to be involved in looting or acts of criminal damage."

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police said that disorder had been reported across the region including in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

A force spokesman said: "Police in Birmingham are managing a large group of people causing disorder in several areas within the city centre."