mick2me

The Nottingham Riots 1981

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Action of the Police and Special Courts with regard to the street disturbances in Nottingham during July 10th – 17th 1981

The National Council for Civil Liberties

Nottingham Branch

REPORT

Action of the Police and Special Courts with regard to the street disturbances in Nottingham during July 10th – 17th 1981

A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

The Context of the ‘Riots’

The Nottingham “Riots” as they were constantly referred to by the local Nottingham Evening Post, took place over the weekend of Friday 10th July to Sunday 12th July 1981.

The major battle between the Police and the ‘rioters’ took place in and around the Hyson Green Flats complex between 11-30pm on the Friday and 3-30pm on the Saturday. However, preliminary gathering of youths in the Clifton area occurred, apparently reacting to the rumour that youths from the Meadows area were coming into the Clifton area that evening. When they did not arrive the Clifton youths moved into the Hyson Green area together with youths from many areas of the city which resulted in them all joining together against the Police. Petrol-bombs and bricks were thrown and a large number of arrests were made. The following night (Saturday) there were further outbreaks along Alfreton Road and in the city centre and a gang of 20-30 youths ran through the Beeston Town Centre Shopping Precinct.

As a result of these outbreaks the Police arrested just over 100 people – youths, mainly between 16 to 25 years of age – 90 of whom came before the “Special Courts” between Monday 13th to Friday 17th July.

It is difficult to assess the degree to which these outbreaks were ‘organised’. A Chief Superintendent from Nottingham speaking at his Association Annual Meeting was said by the Nottingham Evening Post of the 25th September, to have spelt out in general terms the tactics of the Police employed. The Post also claimed that the cost of policing the riots came to £379,000. Apparently police kept an eye on troublemakers by deploying men equipped with powerful night binoculars on the roof of high-rise flats and monitored Citizens Band Radio wavelengths – “thought by the police to be the main medium of communication between some of those involved in the disorder”. (Evening Post 25.9.81). What is clear is that there was a good deal of tension evident during the weekend and the initial public reaction according to the Evening Post was one of outrage and disgust against the activities of the ‘rioters’ with a good deal of sympathy for the Police.

In this unusual and tense situation the Chief Clerk to the Magistrates responded to Police information that “a large number of extra cases would be presented” (Letter from the Clerk to the NCCL( National Council for Civil Liberties), 25th September 1981) by arranging for “additional courts”. A request from NCCL to the Clerk to the Justices asking for information about the way in which the ‘Special Courts’ were set up and dealt with defendants produced a statement from him claiming that they were only ‘Special’ in the sense that they were additional courts arranged by his staff because of the large number of extra cases. In view of the fact that all normal procedures were altered in these courts during the week, they were, by definition “Special” and not simply additional.

We feel that the matter of concern dealt with this report (both affecting Police behaviour and the workings of the court) can be particularly explained in terms of the strong sense that both the Police and Courts seemed to have had about the importance of, being seen to be ‘tough’ on rioters in order to give an example to others. This is illustrated in the comments made by an Inspector of Police at the beginning of proceedings in the first of the riot courts where he stated that”no one would control the streets of Nottingham except the Police” and that “the weekend was one of the blackest in the history of the City”. (Law Society report, page 2, para 8).

Given that only one person was charged with “incitement to riot” the reaction of the Authorities would seem to have been exaggerated. The consequences, – severe doubts about the fairness of the Magistrates Courts, and the concerns about both Police and the Courts expressed by the parents of those accused who were interviewed – must be seen as grave and damaging for the relationships between the community and the Police and the Courts.

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I can see future riots in Nottingham the way things are going. But that would be political & not allowed on this forum.

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Let's see how things fare after the election.

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It's a great shame that political debate has been stifled here because it affects us all whether we live in Nottingham or not.

And it is very interesting to hear another's point of view, even if it's a different one to your own.

However, I completely understand why it's been stopped.

Some people can't accept a difference of opinion.

It's not about trying to 'win' an argument or ranting and raving, accusing people of offence, or verbally beating someone into submission.

It is perfectly reasonable to say that you accept someone's point of view even if you don't agree.

Agreeing to disagree is fine by me.

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There are other options on the internet to discuss politics. You can take your political discussions there.

This is a Nottingham History discussion board.

We had a political board on here from 2004-2014. It was removed after a minority could not use it without being abusive.

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Mick : remember those riots ( not involved) came out of Yates pub - a gang smashed the window of Skincraft on the bottom if Market St. and were trying on leather jackets on the street! Some coats were chained together they took the lot !! Ps* did'nt someone steal a really valuable bike- from Olympic Cycles on Radford Rd??

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I remember very clearly the riots in Nottingham in 1981. I was in my brother's flat in the Park which overlooked Derby Road.

On the worst night we watched a whole swathe of them moving up Derby Road to Canning Circus smashing windows along the way.

I'm convinced that a lot of the rioting was copycat bad behaviour rather than a 'rising up of the masses'.

It's unfortunate but true that low intelligence types are more prone to the 'herd instinct' and being part of a gang.

They just saw it as an opportunity to run amok and possibly do a bit of looting as well.

A better example of people rioting in protest would be when the poll tax was introduced.

That genuinely was a reaction in response to a stupid, ill thought out plan from an out-of-touch government.

I think it sealed Thatcher's fate more than anything.

I live in London but I didn't really see much of the 2011 riots.

Although I did go down Tottenham High Street a few days later and I saw some of the aftermath.

I think again, a lot of it was copycat - made worse by some very poor policing in response to hooliganism and gang culture.

The whole thing was exacerbated by social media. 'Hey get down the High Street, we're gonna set fire to some shops. Grab a telly, the Police are doing nothing'.

I spoke to quite a few people in the area who said that the Police could have quelled it if they'd acted immediately.

Interestingly all the Turkish folk who had shops down there didn't get touched, mainly because they stood outside with baseball bats (!)

And with regard to Mark Duggan, he was a nasty piece of work who was well known in the area for criminality. The suggestion that he was shot and killed for no reason doesn't ring true, but the Police should have made a better case for their actions.

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So what's new Nottingham in the late 18th & early 19 centuries was notorious for public disorder (riots)

The most famous one being the reform act riots of 1831 when Colwick hall was attacked & Nottingham Castle(not really a castle) was torched.

Details-from-painting-Nottingham-Castle-

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I was on the buses at the time, driving through Hyson Green felt very strange, you could feel the tension in the air.

A bit like Beirut on a good day !

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It seems a lifetime ago but I was a copper in those disturbances. (I was not a copper for long, just a couple of years, before going back into the army) I was at the unpleasantness on Alfreton Road, with us coppers taking a line just a bit further down from the Running Horse.

It was a bit surreal. Lots of noise and anxious anticipation but the actual event was not that bad. We had some good sergeants who did the leading. I recall my shift inspector making a fuss and bellowing loudly when we boarded the transit vans to go to Nottingham from Worksop, but had definitely boggered off by the time we got to Canning Circus.

I do recall one act of kindness. I shared a flat with another copper who was on shift that late shift and into the night shift. He was left, almost alone, to police most of Worksop on foot. I was on the tranny van headed for Nottingham. Our landlady, who owned the sweet shop beneath the flat, whose shop was a local copper's tea stop, was lovely. She looked after us and we looked after her. Tony, my mate, had worked 16 hours and I had been in a riot. When we got back to the flat, well after dawn, there was a package of eggs, bacon and bread left for us.

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Yep Mercury : there are decent folk out there. Shared houses with a few coppers over the years- funny my mate Kev ( dog handler) always brought bacon and sausage etc.. home from grateful shop owners. Circa '82-'83.

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I have the greatest respect for dog handlers. Or to be more precise, the dogs. I accidentally trod on a police dog as it was under a table in the crew room. The crew room table was a snooker table covered over by wood during duty. I was puzzled by the banging on the underside of the table. The dog appeared between my knees and quite silently bared its teeth, staring quite directly at me. I asked Jock if this was his dog, and he just chuckled and let me sweat for a bit (which I did, a lot actually) and eventually Jock called the dog away. He later reminded me that the dog would not attack unless he gave the order to attack. Great, I thought. I had a 40kg German Shepherd dog with a short temper just a foot away from my wedding tackle and he just laughed.

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I remember the riots quite clearly, although I lived in London at the time, managing a store in North Finchley. Whilst London's unrest had been limited mainly to the Brixton area, we were advised by the police they were expecting major trouble in Finchley that Saturday evening and all businesses should be prepared for damage and looting. We went to the expense of boarding up the front windows and had a security team installed at the ready. On the national tv were reports of riots up and down the country so it was quite scary. We waited in trepidation on the that Saturday night for the storm and what happend? Bugger all!

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To this day I admire Tony O for policing Worksop on his own. He had both Worksop North (My beat) and Worksop South and just one panda car for a Saturday night. Most of the senior officers had boggered off, leaving him on his own. On a Saturday Worksop could be challenging for a full team of 8 officers. I know he went into a bar brawl with no chance of back up.

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I have the greatest respect for dog handlers. Or to be more precise, the dogs. I accidentally trod on a police dog as it was under a table in the crew room. The crew room table was a snooker table covered over by wood during duty. I was puzzled by the banging on the underside of the table. The dog appeared between my knees and quite silently bared its teeth, staring quite directly at me. I asked Jock if this was his dog, and he just chuckled and let me sweat for a bit (which I did, a lot actually) and eventually Jock called the dog away. He later reminded me that the dog would not attack unless he gave the order to attack. Great, I thought. I had a 40kg German Shepherd dog with a short temper just a foot away from my wedding tackle and he just laughed.

Yes, you don't mess with a German Shepherd. Way back, one of my earliest jobs included debt collecting Hire Purchase arrears. One day I visited a house on Farnborough Road, knocked on the front door and was asked to come to the side gate which was opened. Before I could do anything, an Alsatian bounded out and sank it's teeth into the first bit of flesh it came to. We managed to prise it off and I had a trip straight to QMC where the teeth marks and damage were inspected by several nurses. After a tetanus shot and a dressing I returned to base and reported to my boss that I had been grievously chaveled by an Alsatian. He asked if it was a large one and I told him ' Yes it was, before the bloody Alsatian got hold of it '.

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Wasn't Canning Circus fire bombed a few years ago?

Probably gone now and turned into a cardiac arrest unit for junk food eaters!

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I was on the Bulwell Flyers all during the HG riots ! An open invitation to race down the Green not stopping until reaching Shippo's was great fun.

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I can well imagine Catfan placing one's slipons on the gas pedal.

Seem to recall a woman carrying a large TV down Radford Rd.

A certain record shop on Bridlesmith Gate also got raided...idiots and thugs!!

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No doubt some are familiar with the 1981 thugs..and riots .Nottingham_Riot_1958.jpg

But in Nottingham in 1958 what has been dubbed -the' forgotten race riot .'

High and simmering tensions spilled onto Nottm streets culminating in property and humam injury.

Sparked over an interracial relationship.some black and asian people were refused work in Nottm factories, resulting in more trouble.

A fight in a pub in St.Anns was the final straw..soon violence on a large scale was occuring-gangs of black and white men fighting...for several hours whilst Police struggled.

8 were taken to the General Hospital..

One man required 37 stitches .

Chief Constable Popkess tried to play down the causes..as it was not a good profile story for Nottm and it's people. Several years later...things greatly improved in Notttm as Eric Irons was the countrys first black Lord Mayor.

Photo from Nottm riot 1958.

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