London

The UK's Evangelical Alliance has called on Christians across London to join in praying for London following three nights of rioting in the capital.

The Alliance was holding a prayer vigil tonight in North London from 7pm and urged people to join in prayer where-ever they were.

"The arson, looting, violence and vandalism carried out in the past few days is both shocking and unacceptable. It's our communities that are being ransacked. Neighbours are losing their livelihoods and lives are being put at risk. Against such as background, the church is already taking immediate action."

- Evangelical Alliance General Director Steve Clifford

General Director Steve Clifford said in a statement prior to the meeting that it was an "opportunity for Christians and Christian leaders to join together in unity and seek God on behalf of our communities".

"The arson, looting, violence and vandalism carried out in the past few days is both shocking and unacceptable," he said. "It's our communities that are being ransacked. Neighbours are losing their livelihoods and lives are being put at risk. Against such as background, the church is already taking immediate action.

"Christians are present on the street and participating in the clear-up, by offering encouragement and support to the emergency services and their neighbours while praying for peace."

The alliance has suggested a number of practical ways in which people can help in their communities including baking some treats for their local police, ambulance or fire station, talking to neighbours about how they are coping and perhaps even inviting them for a meal, and holding a lunch in the church hall for the community and emergency workers.

Earlier in the day, senior politicians – including the Prime Minister David Cameron who has returned to the country from a holiday in Tuscany – have condemned the widespread violence and looting and vowed that those behind it will face the full force of the law.

Mr Cameron said there will be 16,000 police on the streets of London tonight in a bid to restore order to the nation’s capital. 

"We will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and make them safe for the law-abiding," Mr Cameron said in a statement made in Downing Street today. He said that those involved would feel the “full force of the law”. 

In a reference to the fact that many of those involved in the violence have been youths, Mr Cameron added: “And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment."

The first of the riots broke out on Saturday. They came in the wake of a peaceful protest held over the police shooting of a man in Tottenham on the weekend. 

On Monday night – the third night of rioting the capital has seen - communities across the city – from Croydon in the south to Ealing in the west, Hackney in the east and Camden in the north bore the brunt of the rioters’ attacks. More than 500 people have now been arrested and the city’s holding cells are now full.

Police have used armoured vehicles in their efforts last night to put an end to the rioting and are now reportedly considering employing officers with plastic baton rounds.

Local church leaders have been among those who have called for the violence to end and faith leaders have reportedly been holding prayer vigils for those affected by them. 

And while social media has reportedly been a key means of communication among those perpetrating the violence, it was also today being used to organise clean-up efforts by community members.

www.eauk.org