Police deny witholding Reading Makro looting details

Police in Reading have denied claims they "suppressed information" about a looting to prevent copycat behaviour.

A BBC investigation revealed Thames Valley Police came under pressure from community groups not to reveal examples of serious disorder.

About 40 people raided a cash and carry store early on 9 August, but the following day police described it as a burglary with four arrests.

Police said: "There was no sense of information being restricted."

Eleven people, aged between 16 and 39, have now been charged with burglary and violent disorder following the incident at the Makro store in Elgar Road South, during which £15,000 worth of goods were stolen.

The incident has been linked to the riots around England.

BBC reporter Ben Moore said: "The police had used Twitter to update the public and press overnight and there was no inclination of the scale of what had happened in Reading."

He added that his investigation revealed local groups had met with Thames Valley Police and asked them to play down any incidents of serious disorder.

Reading East MP Rob Wilson said: "I think police were under quite a bit of pressure from local organisations worried about public services if copycat events were going to take place."

He added: "I think the police were extremely worried about giving it too much publicity and over-hyping it, and I think that was quite a sensible approach to the matter."

Det Ch Insp James Hahn said: "There wasn't any suppression of information.

"We reported what we knew at the time, we did not know the full extent of the issues inside Makro.

"With hindsight we've got CCTV and we know the numbers that were in there."

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