David Cameron, prime minister of Britain, on Thursday said the law abiding citizens of London will be protected and that those who have had their livelihood and property destroyed in the riots will be compensated for the damages.

"We are on your side," Cameron said in a meeting, stating that the country must "pull together.

Riots started sweeping across London on Saturday when a peaceful demonstration outside Tottenham police station for the death of Mark Duggan, 29, turned ugly. The peaceful protestors were demanding justice for the police shooting death of the father of four. An investigation has been launched into that incident.

But Cameron said Duggan's death was used as an excuse by "opportunist thugs in gangs" first in Tottenham, to spread the violence. There have been reports of looting and disorder in Birmingham and Liverpool on Monday. Local police have also been responding to incidents in Manchester, Birkenhead, West Bromwich, Salford and Wolverhampton.

"It is simply preposterous for anyone to suggest that people looting in Tottenham at the weekend, still less three days later Salford, were in any way doing so because of the death of Mark Duggan," Cameron said.

More than 1,500 people have been arrested across the country since violence started. Almost 16,000 police will remain on the street through the weekend.

"And to the lawless minority, the criminals who've taken what they can get. I say: We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you," Cameron said. "You will pay for what you have done."

The courts in London, Manchester and the West Midlands have been sitting through the night - and will continue to do so for as long as necessary, Cameron said.