Looters were ferried into Croydon by minibus to cause destruction, we can reveal.

In an interview with Acting Borough Commander Jo Oakley, it emerged gangs of rioters were bussed in, reportedly by gang leaders.

The Superintendent defended the tactics of the police but admitted they struggled with the wide geographical scale of the incidents.

She praised the bravery of individual officers who had to deal with a situation she had never seen the like of.

Disorder had already broken out in other boroughs across London and this had stretched the Met’s resources, she admitted.

Calls and intelligence took time to come through while the speed at which the situation escalated made things worse.

She said: “It all started happening and escalated very quickly.

“We had a lot of officers in and around the town centre. However there were incidents going on across Croydon.

“The geography caused problems.

“There were so many individual incidents across Croydon. For some of the areas there was no intelligence that was going to happen.”

She said areas such as Reeves Corner, where the historic House of Reeves furniture store was burnt to the ground, had nothing to steal but the looters still went there and destroyed things.

Defending the tactics used by police, she said public safety was her top priority and there were shoppers in the town centre when the trouble began.

She said: “The tactics were right for the most part.

“What started it off in no time at all was a mob gang of about 300 throwing anything they got their hand on.

“We would be called to an incident and we would go down there and arrest them and in no time at all a very volatile crowd would come out of the wood work.

“I was really proud of the officers who put themselves in some very difficult positions.”

Asked why police did not come and help when buildings were being broken into sometimes yards from the police she said he officers could not break the line.

She said: “They still need to hold a certain line because if they broke that they can get through and cause more trouble.”

She revealed she had every officer on the streets of Croydon on Monday night, including CID in uniform and British Transport Police officers as well as every Safer Neighbourhood Team.

And she warned those who had committed the crimes “we will come after you”.

She said: “I have some of the best detectives working for me and have an extra team to help with solving these crimes. We are already arresting people.”