Scenes of ransacked stores, torched cars and blackened buildings frightened and outraged Britons just a year before their country is to host next summer's Olympic Games.
What started as a weekend protest against the fatal police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, a father of four, has spread into violent clashes over government spending cuts throughout London, Bristol, Birmingham and Liverpool.
Police across the country have made more than 1,100 arrests since the violence broke out.
In London, where armored vehicles and convoys of police vans patrolled the streets, authorities said there would be 16,000 officers on duty - almost triple the number present Monday. They said a large presence would remain in the city through the next 24 hours at least.
Police in Britain generally avoid tear gas, water cannons or other strong-arm riot measures. Many shops targeted by looters had goods that youths would want anyway - sneakers, bikes, electronics, leather goods - while other buildings were torched apparently just for the fun of seeing something burn.
Officials said there are no plans to call in the military, and parents should keep their children indoors. In the northwestern city of Manchester, hundreds of youths - some looking as young as 10 - rampaged through the city center.
The riots claimed their first death - a 26-year-old found shot dead in a car.
A total of 111 officers and 14 civilians have been injured, including a man in his 60s with life-threatening injuries. The man was putting out a fire set by rioters, who then turned and attacked him.
Officials said rioters are using Twitter to stay ahead of police.
Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament from its recess and plans to hold a crisis meeting. He described the scenes of burning buildings and smashed windows as "sickening."
England's soccer match Wednesday against the Netherlands in London's Wembley stadium was canceled to free up police officers for riot duty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.