No to police budget cuts: Johnson
London mayor Boris Johnson has seized on the violence sweeping England to demand a rethink of Government plans to slash police budgets.
The senior Tory said the rioting had "substantially weakened" an already thin case for cutting funding, which a watchdog has warned could lead to the loss of 16,200 officers.
A beefed-up police presence in the capital helped quell trouble on its streets after three nights of trouble but ugly scenes of looting spread to Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham.
Many victims of the violence have complained of a failure by the police to deal with the disorder but Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted budget cuts will go ahead as planned.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has suggested around 16,200 police officers will be axed - along with 1,800 community support officers and 16,100 police staff. Ministers insist the savings can be found through cutting red tape and other functions and do not require reductions in the number of officers available for frontline duty.
As Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency committee, Cobra, to discuss the latest developments, Mr Johnson made a dramatic break with party policy.
Unprompted, he told BBC Radio 4: "If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in the light of these events, then my answer to that would be a 'no'."
The mayor, who is seeking re-election to City Hall next year, went on: "That case was always pretty frail and it has been substantially weakened. This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers."
Mr Johnson labelled the disturbances across the country "a massive own-goal", saying: "It was just unbelievable to think that here in London you had people who were behaving with a complete absence of restraint and a complete lack of respect for the police."
Emerging from the Cobra meeting at Whitehall, Scotland Yard Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin confirmed that ongoing talks surrounding police budgets were taking place with Mr Johnson.