Group of volunteers clear remains of destroyed vehicles in Hackney, north London

Facebook and Twitter users launch riot clean-up campaign

Social networking users have launched a campaign to help clean-up areas affected by the riots.

A massive clean-up operation is getting under way in areas affected by the riots, which have broken out across London and other cities in the UK. The Association of British Insurers said the total cost could run into the tens of millions.

Users of Twitter and Facebook are using the social networking sites to arrange mass street clean-up operations across London and in other cities affected. Police have said social networking sites were also utilised by the rioters to organise their looting and civil disobedience.

An account on Twitter called @riotcleanup attracted more than 18,000 followers in a matter of hours today and was helping people to co-ordinate their efforts. Others were using the hashtag #riotscleanup to arrange to meet up and help clear areas around their homes.

Councils and residents in areas where some of the worst disorder occurred yesterday and overnight have already started sending teams out to begin what is likely to be a lengthy clean-up operation. A spokeswoman for Hackney Council in north London said it had sent teams out “as soon as it was safe”.

Those using Twitter to co-ordinate clean-up efforts are calling themselves the “Riot Wombles” and are now using the hashtag #riotwombles to arrange meeting times and places. One, with the username Ladypaperclip, wrote: “Sitting in the bus lane outside the station with dozens of #riotwombles waiting for the police to let us into #claphamjunction.”

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