From a distance, it is hard not to see the similarities between the current riots across the UK and the student riots of a few months ago.
At that time, I pointed out that there was an organised cadre of so-called "anarchists" determined to cause trouble. Clearly, when one looks at the new targets for the rioters: Oxford Street, Notting Hill, it seems pretty obvious that the same or at least a very similar group is operating here again.
They are trouble makers, without a viable vision, simply spurred on by a dead ideology. They can not be taken seriously as a political force in themselves. However the damage that these criminals are causing, not just to the political process, but to the communities where the rioting has been most focused, is significant and the challenge must now be met.
All of the community work that has been put into improving the security and prosperity of such places as Tottenham and the St Paul's area of Bristol has been lost- to the drastic detriment of the residents there. Now, the only short term solution is heavy policing to restore order.
Security starts with zero tolerance for the thugs and "anarchist" fellow-travellers. Once order is restored, then the long and painful process of rebuilding must begin again. A depressing prospect indeed for those that live there- and indeed the rest of us.
However we must not kid ourselves that the way that the violence has escalated has been accidental. Whatever the initial spark, these riots have been deliberately incited by anti-democratic thugs. We need to find those responsible and punish them according to law- and it needs to be done quickly. That is the first challenge for the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary as they return to their desks. Once the fire is out, only then can the process of rebuilding the burnt out communities begin anew.