The council has launched an independent inquiry into the riots of August 8.

Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of the council last night, leader Councillor Mike Fisher said: “We hope never to witness such a mindless destruction of our town ever again.”

Opposition leader Tony Newman had already called for the inquiry and welcomed the announcement.

He said: “There are so many questions that must be answered.

“It is right there is an independent inquiry specifically charged with what went wrong in Croydon on August 8, when 999 calls are no longer being answered, when hundreds of people in burning flats are being left to fend for themselves.”

The meeting was the first time the council had the opportunity to discuss the riots despite many cancelling holiday to visit the scenes of destruction in the days after the violence.

Coun Fisher paid tribute to the community spirit shown in the borough in the aftermath of the riots.

He said: “At its best it was inspirational, and I am immensely proud of the way our community has responded.

“It might have been soul destroying to watch people loot and burn our buildings, but it has been heart-warming to see the spirit of togetherness and the sacrifices by people that have been made in an effort to get Croydon back into business.”

He highlighted the £1m support package the council has established and £150,000 of interest free loans, declaring Croydon open for business again.

And there was another stark warning to those who committed the offences, in light of figures which showed more than 380 had been arrested in Croydon and more than 75 per cent had a criminal record.

Coun Fisher said: “Those people will have to pay for their crimes.

“I hope the shame and guilt will remain with them for a very long time.

“We also intend to send a clear message to those involved in criminal any person convicted of an offence who resides in a council owned property we will seek their eviction from that property.”