MATTHEW Offord was not at the House of Commons discussion on the riots today because he was on holiday.

The Conservative, who represents Hendon, flew out on a diving trip to South America on Saturday and missed the key debate in which Prime Minister David Cameron criticised the police response to the violence.

He was given permission by party whips to remain abroad due to the remote location and the difficulty and expense of organising the several flights needed to return, his office said.

He will not be back until Saturday next week but has posted a statement to residents on his website, which reads: “I completely condemn the scenes that we have seen on our television screens and in our communities.

“The violence and looting is not only shocking but also confusing as it has nothing to do with the shooting in Tottenham.

“We can only speculate on the motivations of the people who are engaging in this criminal behaviour but one thing is for sure and that is that it is unacceptable.

"I fully understand the concerns of my constituents about safety in our area.”

He was informed of the debate and of the situation in his constituency, where fears have been high and there have been several lower level examples of civil unrest.

The windows of the Broadwalk Shopping Centre, in Edgware, were smashed and a group of 50 or more youths were dispersed at Edgware Bus Garage.

But tensions have also been so high that misinformation about events in the area has spread like wildfire on social networking website Twitter with some users saying, incorrectly, that a bus in Edgware was torched.