‘Back the police’ call amid rioting chaos

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WIGAN residents have been urged to support the police as waves of civil unrest continue to batter England’s inner cities.

Greater Manchester’s Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney moved to calm fears of “copycat” riots in Wigan after an online group calling for a repeat of the violence and looting which has swept the country was reportedly removed from Facebook.

Internet users contacted police after spotting the group on the social networking site, which asked Wigan folk to stage their own riots.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say they are working closely with community leaders to avoid violence in the Wigan borough after the wave of riots spread to other cites including Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol.

ACC Sweeney said: “I, like the majority of people in this country, am appalled by the mindless acts of criminality and violence that we have seen over the last few days.

“I want to reassure the public of Greater Manchester that there have been no disturbances or incidents of disorder or rioting here since trouble flared in London over the weekend.

“We are monitoring the situation extremely closely and are prepared to deal with any situations that may arise.

“Should we be faced with any incidents of disorder or criminality we will respond in a firm and robust way that supports our communities’ expectations and maintains public safety.

“We are working closely with community leaders to stand up for calm and together we can maintain trouble free streets.

“I want the public to continue to support the police and their communities and want to stress that speculative gossip and reporting is unhelpful and unwelcome.”

Lancashire Constabulary has sent dozens of officers down to London. Assistant Chief Constable Peter White said a total of 76 officers had been deployed.

A Wigan man has been arrested for using Facebook to attempt to incite a riot. In a separate incident, seven people have been arrested on suspicion of inciting public disorder through social networking sites.