PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said the Belfast rioting is being manipulated by criminal gangs.
Young people are being led by the nose to prison, he said, while issuing a plea to parents to control their children.
Mr Baggott added that the police tactics were under constant review throughout the trouble.
Twenty-nine police officers were injured during sectarian riots between republicans and loyalists in east Belfast today.
The union flag will be raised at dawn over Belfast City Hall for the first time since the dispute began last month.
Police were attacked for a third night, with frontline officers reportedly coming under gunfire as new loyalist trouble erupted in Belfast.