The riots sweeping through our cities - the worst since the early 1980s - are tragic, inexcusable and unjustifiable.
Our hearts go out to the victims, and our grateful thanks go out to the emergency services, who have worked exceptionally hard and with real courage. This is especially the case as the level of policing does not seem to have been sufficient over the weekend, leaving them at a disadvantage in some areas.
The absolute priority must be to restore order to the streets, to make sure there are sufficient police for the task, and then to review the level of youth intervention for the remainder of the summer. We need to provide reassurance to residents and businesses in affected areas, and also to the vast majority of young people who are not involved in criminal behaviour but who are also frightened and disturbed by what is happening.
We have to act to act quickly to identify other potential flashpoints and head them off, even after the immediate crisis is over.
There will need to be a through inquiry into all aspects of these disturbances. Whilst each individual incident is purely and simply a criminal action, mass riots on this scale, involving thousands of young people, have not appeared out of thin air. To prevent anything like this happening again, we need to be clear about all the different issues, from the rise of gangs and ‘postcode' violence to the role of social media(Facebook, Twitter), to the size and nature of the police response and relations between police and our youth.
However, all that is for later.
Today I simply want to reinforce the key message from the police- every parent should be aware of where their children are, and should make sure that they are off the streets.