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Cameron to seek U.S. help in solving gang violence

Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament on Thursday that Britain would look to the United States for solutions to gang violence after nights of riots and looting and promised authorities would get strong powers to stop street mayhem from erupting again.

He said he was "acting decisively to restore order on our streets," as police raided houses to round up suspects from four nights of unrest in London and other cities.

Steve Kavanagh, the deputy assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, admitted it initially did not deploy enough officers to control the outbreak of violence over the weekend.

Cameron also acknowledged that police had been overwhelmed by roving groups of looters in the first nights of the rioting and said authorities were considering new powers, including allowing police to order thugs to remove masks or hoods, evicting troublemakers from subsidized housing and temporarily disabling cellphone instant messaging services.

He said the 16,000 police deployed on London's streets to deter rioters and reassure residents would remain through the weekend. "We will not let a violent few beat us," he aid.

While Britain's streets were clear of looters for a second night in a row, the toll of the riots continued to climb. A 68-year-old man who was attacked during rioting in west London as he tried to put out a fire died late Thursday, police said.

Richard Mannington Bowes had been in a coma since Monday. Police said a murder investigation has now been opened into his death.

Lawmakers were summoned back from their summer vacations for an emergency session of Parliament on the riots as government and police worked to regain control.

During a session lasting almost three hours in which he faced 160 questions from lawmakers, Cameron promised tough measures to stop further violence and said "nothing should be off the table."

He said that included water cannon and plastic bullets -- though senior police have said they don't feel the need to use those at the moment. He also said officials would look at "whether there are tasks that the army could undertake that would free up more police for the front line."

Cameron said he would seek American advice on fighting the street gangs he blamed for helping spark the riots.

He told lawmakers that he would look to cities like Boston for inspiration. He also mentioned former Los Angeles, New York and Boston Police Chief William Bratton as a person who could help offer advice.

Bratton said he would be "pleased and honored" to provide services and counsel in any capacity, adding that he loves London and has worked with British police for nearly 20 years.

Cameron said the government, police and intelligence services were looking at whether there should be limits on the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook or services like BlackBerry Messenger to spread disorder.

BlackBerry's simple and largely cost-free messaging service has been used by rioters to coordinate their activities, Cameron's office said.

Britain's Home Office said it planned to hold talks with police chiefs, Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion Ltd.

Facebook looks forward to meeting with the home secretary, the company said in a statement, adding that it has taken steps in recent days to ensure that any credible threats of violence are removed from the social networking site.

Government officials said they were discussing with spy agencies and communications companies whether messaging services could be disabled in specific areas, or at specific times.

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