May slams 'sudden riot speculation'
Politicians should refrain from rushing to judgment over the causes of the riots that swept across England, the Home Secretary has said.
Theresa May said it is not helpful for politicians to "suddenly speculate" over what happened and the causes would only be known once all the evidence had been analysed.
Her comments came after Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke blamed a criminal "feral underclass" for the looting and violence on the streets.
Mrs May told MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that it is "difficult" to pinpoint the causes of the riots.
"It's not helpful for politicians to suddenly speculate over what happened," she said.
"I think one of the things I would say is there are a number of elements in terms of what happened."
These varied from site to site, she said.
"I'm absolutely clear that what underlay it was criminality. Three-quarters of those arrested have criminal records."
Earlier, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said that blaming a "feral underclass" was lazy and absolved those involved of responsibility.
Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "Earlier this week, the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, set out his broad thoughts on both the perpetrators and the need for the reform of the penal system post-riots. Yet we are still to hear from him specifically about the implications for youth justice."