A British government official Tuesday blamed the rioting that has engulfed London and other cities on a “criminal subculture.”

MP Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, also pledged to stop the streets of London from being ''taken over by a bunch of lawless criminals'' for a fourth night of violence.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police plan to deploy thousands of officers in a grand show of strength to prevent further acts of disorder.

''Tonight we will have 16,000 police officers on the street to deal with any repetition of that criminality,'' Pickles told reporters.

''If anybody suggested this is about bored youths, that's no excuse whatsoever. This is about a subculture of criminals who have decided not to rail against society, but to target the [retailers] Currys and Booths and Dixons to take out valuable property to sell them.''

Pickles further rejected the notion that the rioters are out to express their grievances with the government’s policies, particularly the draconian austerity measures imposed to reduce the deficit.

 ''These are people who are just about robbery and thievery,'' he said.

''They are about going into shops, stripping them of mobile phones, stripping them of trainers, stripping them of designer goods. They're about people trying to make money out of this, not about confronting police.''

In a direct warning to rioters, Pickles stated: ''[London] is a city with a lot of surveillance cameras and it's all right putting your hoodie on now, but you're going to have to put your hoodie on for a long time to escape justice. That stuff you stole over the last few days is going to lead directly to your arrest.''

He also praised the activities of law-abiding Londoners who have attempted to take control of the streets and their property,

''There have been some good things that have come out of this,” Pickles said.

''The way in which the public have reacted, the way in which people turned up this morning determined to clean up their streets, complete with brushes and mops, is an indication that Londoners aren't prepared to be cowed by a subculture of criminals.''