Four days into the England riots, Terry Sweeney, gold commander of Greater Manchester police, had to make a decision. Rioting had already spread from London to Birmingham to Liverpool – would Manchester be next? The messages coming into his command centre in Sedgley Park were mixed: he had information that 600 people were about to gather in Wigan, and intelligence about trouble brewing in Rochdale and Salford. "We had about six pieces of seamless strand information – some social media, some internal intelligence," the assistant chief constable said. "But nothing gave any kind of clarity."