More fires, more looting, more violent incidents, more arrests
Trouble flared late on Tuesday and carried on into early hours before a calmer night
Paul Vallely is visiting professor in Public Ethics at the University of Chester and a senior research fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester. He writes on ethical, political and cultural issues. He has a fortnightly column in the Independent on Sunday and also writes for the New York Times and the Church Times. His latest book is Pope Francis – Untying the Knots. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.
Thursday 11 August 2011
An 18-year-old man was arrested yesterday on suspicion of arson over the burning of a Miss Selfridge store in Manchester city centre. The fire damage at the clothes shop was among 100 premises targeted by looters and vandals who ran amok on Tuesday night.
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Footage of the suspect torching the shop was widely distributed after being obtained by ITV. Police reinforcements from other forces were drafted in last night to avoid a repeat of the disorder, which engulfed both Manchester and Salford.
Hundreds of rioters, some looking as young as nine or 10, had rampaged throughout Manchester city centre and Salford shopping precinct from about 5pm on Tuesday. At its height the violence produced 1,000 police incidents, 150 fires, 12 hospitalised injuries and saw 113 people arrested, the youngest aged just 15.
Around 600 licensed premises were warned to close early yesterday by the Manchester Pub and Club Network, and the Arndale Centre closed at 5pm. By midnight, however, it had remained quiet. More than 1,000 volunteers poured into the city centre yesterday morning to clean up the mess. The volunteers arrived from across Greater Manchester, many carrying their own brushes and dustpans. Many of them had "I love Manchester" daubed in red and white make-up on their cheeks.
There was a self-consciousness about the event. Those who turned up wanted to offer themselves as a counter-example to the Mancunian rioters. "It's our way of saying enough is enough," one student said.
On Tuesday night, Toxteth residents ignored police advice to lock themselves inside their houses with their children and instead played a "cat and mouse game" with rioters – begging them to stop turning their own community into a "war zone".
Before the second night of disturbances erupted, police held a meeting for residents where suggested safety measures included putting wheelie bins inside houses or back gardens to prevent them being set on fire. Youth worker Peter Downey, 23, said: "The police advised us to stay indoors and keep our young people under lock and key. But a lot of the parents are single mothers with drug or alcohol issues who would not be able to control their kids."
Dozens of residents volunteered to carry out night patrols. "We played a cat and mouse game all night," added Mr Downey, of the Unity Youth Centre. "We would speak to one group of kids and tell them to go home only to find them around the next street corner again. Unfortunately, Toxteth is now seen as the war zone. I have known some of these kids since they were babies and seen them acting like animals on the street. We told our kids to go home and most of them did. But the majority of the crowd were from other areas so it really kicked off again."
In the aftermath, hundreds took to the streets to clear up after the violence. Local councillor Steve Munby said: "People are not angry with the police. They are angry with the Toxteth riot tourists coming in to wreck and rob our community. It is an older group of organised criminals.
"This is completely different to 1981 when there were thousands of local people involved and issues with the police," he added. "I think Liverpool can shake it off and continue to persuade people we have turned a corner. The difference is perhaps that here the riots will have a greater resonance perhaps which is why people want to put it behind them."
Earl Jenkins, who runs a local youth club, also confronted the rioters. He said: "They were not from around here. There was no one I recognised."
In Nottingham, residents were told to go about their normal business yesterday in a show of confidence by council leaders and police, who insisted the city had come through Tuesday night's violent scenes largely unscathed.
During the second night of trouble, rampaging youths, dressed in black and wearing hoods, firebombed five police stations and targeted the St Ann's area, setting cars on fire and terrifying homeowners. No members of the public were hurt, nearly 100 people were arrested, and three police officers suffered minor injuries.
There was only one attack on commercial premises – a city-centre jewellers. A man was arrested nearby and stolen property recovered. However, hundreds of incidents were reported, including what police described later yesterday as "minor damage" to the police stations at Canning Circus, Oxclose, Bulwell, St Ann's, and The Meadows, where a police vehicle was set alight.
Around 20 people took to the roof of Nottingham High School. One youth was arrested armed with three home-made incendiary devices. But the city remained open to visitors yesterday, shops were open, public transport was running and the police gamble of allowing the Carling Cup clash between Nottingham Forest and Notts County to go ahead appeared to have paid off.
Elsewhere in the city on Tuesday night, large groups of youths were rounded up and dispersed in a city-wide operation involving 240 police officers, including 100 special constables, mounted police and a dog unit.
Council leader and chairman of Nottinghamshire Police Authority, Jon Collins, said: "Nottinghamshire Police deserve our thanks and praise for the way they have managed another evening of frankly disgusting behaviour from a mindless minority."
A police spokesman added: "Understandably, the majority of people in St Ann's and the city are appalled at what has happened and the damage caused by a small minority of people who think it is appropriate to target members of their own community."
Gloucester city centre will be locked down for the next six months after police issued a dispersal order allowing them to move on any groups of "two or more" people from the area where the worst of Tuesday night's disorder took place. Mounted police chased gangs of youths through the city centre as shop windows were smashed and a building set on fire. The trouble began at around 9.30pm and went on into the early hours. Eight fire crews were called to deal with a large fire at a former art college that has been empty since 2007.
The windows of a bookmaker were smashed and a newsagent looted for cigarettes and alcohol on the city's Barton Street, home of a number of ethnic restaurants, near the main shopping area. Bins were thrown at windows and at police officers. Eyewitnesses said police cars were hit with bricks.
The area was eventually closed off but not before a taxi driver had his car pelted with stones. Police have so far made 11 arrests, all men aged 16 to 40, and hope to make more.
"While the disorder here has not been on the same scale as elsewhere in the country, involving perhaps 60 people at most, it has undoubtedly been very disturbing," said Deputy Chief Constable Mick Matthews.
The city's residents were not as shocked as some of the rest of the country that the rioting should have spread there. "People think it's a quaint cathedral town, but there are parts of Gloucester that are as rough as anywhere in Birmingham or Manchester or Liverpool," said Will Cook, 25, the manager of a computer game shop.
"We were warned by the police about the possibility of trouble last night. I was going to be in the shop doing a stock take until about 2am last night but I was advised not to. I heard about the fire and came down to the shop at about 1.30 to see it was all OK, which it was."
Yesterday evening, police held a meeting to discuss the possibility of further rioting, a prospect raised by young people over the BlackBerry messenger service. One message sent at 4.50am on Wednesday read: "I'm at mine nw.. It all happening agen 2mar this time the shop r gunna get dne over apparently."
A man and a 17-year-old youth appeared in court yesterday in connection with riots in Bristol. Michael Coffey, 47, of Whitefield Road, Bristol, is accused of violent disorder in connection with an incident in which "missiles" were thrown at police officers by members of a 50-strong crowd which was behind "blockades" in the Stokes Croft area on Tuesday. He is accused of throwing two glass bottles at officers.
He did not enter a plea to the charge when he appeared at Bristol magistrates' court and was remanded in custody until a hearing on 19 August.
The male youth, who lives in Bristol but cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared at a youth court hearing accused of violent disorder and assaulting a police officer on Monday. The charges are linked to an incident by the Jamaica Inn pub in St Pauls in which a police van was attacked with a rock, smashing its windscreen. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded in custody until the same date.
Police stepped up patrols and heightened surveillance of social-networking sites after four incidents including arson and an attempted looting on Tuesday night. South Wales police said they suppressed the "isolated" and "minor" incidents of disorder, including an attempted break-in at JD Sports in Cardiff Bay and criminal damage at a takeaway in the Canton area.
The fire brigade was called to two disused buildings in Canton and Butetown that were set alight. Riot police dispersed the potential looters who had broken into the sportswear shop.
Chief Superintendent Josh Jones, of South Wales police, said: "These incidents are being treated as isolated which have caused relatively minor damage to property." Further minor unrest last night was quickly quelled.
Petrol bombs were used by a gang of youths on Tuesday night. At least two were thrown, including one at a car. The trouble began at 4pm when a gang of 30 to 40 youths started to gather around The Point in the city centre. A restaurant owner in Bletchley was robbed and the gang tried to force their way into a Tesco store. Shops and businesses had windows smashed and 13 incidents of criminal damage were reported to police. There was no looting and officers were keen to stress that the trouble was on a minor scale.
Up to 200 youths charged through the town setting fire to vehicles and attacking shops and homes. Bricks and bins were hurled as the youths, many of them masked and hooded, left a trail of destruction. Shops in the area shut early, some of them boarding up their windows, after being told rioters were likely to target them. Some of them were looted when the gang of youths brought chaos to the area.
Riot police moved in to block off the high street and other roads and confronted the youths who tried to break their ranks by throwing bricks and other objects. Some of the people involved in the unrest were said to be children as young as 11.
Shops closed early because of fears of copycat riots. Several windows were broken in the high street, with Starbucks, O2 and Ladbrokes among the businesses affected. At least one person was arrested.
Police leave was cancelled to help to prevent a repeat of Tuesday night when rioters rampaged through the city centre and 14 people were arrested. A youth aged 17 has been charged with criminal damage while a 50-year-old man was charged with public-order offences.
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