CRIMINAL gangs appear to be behind the riots and looting across England this week, the Attorney General has told the Bucks Free Press today.

Dominic Grieve, MP for Beaconsfield, said those responsible must be brought to justice – and said the police and crown prosecution service were doing all they can to ensure this.

And he said culprits showed a total lack of “moral consciousness”.

Speaking after this morning's meeting of COBRA, the Government's emergency committee, Mr Grieve said those involved had been intent on “causing mayhem”.

He said: “It's unacceptable and appalling behaviour which seems to be being committed by criminal gangs with the object of looting more than anything else.

“I think The most shocking thing is the complete absence of any display of moral consciousness by those who are doing this, causing great hurt and upset and economic damage and loss to fellow human beings.

“Most's destroying or undermining the very communities in which they live, on which they are in fact ultimately dependent for their well being.

"It's behaviour of the most short sighted and vicious type.”

He said fellow Government Ministers were shocked by events but had a sense of “purposefulness” to bring trouble to a halt.

After a huge boost in police numbers on the streets in London last night, trouble receded in the capital but looting and disorder was seen in other major cities like Manchester.

Wycombe Chief Inspector Colin Seaton moved to assure residents yesterday evening after unfounded internet rumours yesterday suggesting the trouble was coming to High Wycombe.

In South Bucks, only a small amount of trouble has been reported in Slough, Mr Grieve said.

“We were pleased the night went much more quietly in London and in the South East of England generally and still very concerned with dealing with the problem overall and bringing to justice those who have committed serious criminal offences.”

He said the underlying issues of social breakdown in some inner city communities had been much examined in the past 30 years but tackling it had proved unsuccessful.

“It's social break down in terms of parenting and responsible behaviour,” he said.

“To my mind there's nothing particularly new about this it's just the way it's manifested itself at the moment is slightly unusual.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson today called for a rethink in the Government's police budget cuts.

But Mr Grieve said: “It's not my understanding that the police are short of the necessary manpower to deal with the issue.”

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier said he had asked police if they had the resources required.