Police on stand-by at estate

TENSIONS on the Hartcliffe estate in Bristol, the scene of three consecutive nights of clashes between residents and police, appeared to have subsided yesterday, but 300 officers with riot equipment remained on stand-by.

The disturbances on Saturday night were on a smaller scale than on the previous two nights and community police officers patrolling Symes Avenue, the shopping street which has been the principal flashpoint, said yesterday that the atmosphere was much calmer.

Two detectives from the South- west Regional Crime Squad remain suspended from duty until completion of an inquiry into the collision between their unmarked police car and a stolen police motorcycle. Two Hartcliffe residents died in the incident, which sparked the initial riots.

The Police Complaints Authority is supervising the inquiry by the Avon and Somerset force. Photographs of the collision appear to substantiate allegations by local people that the detectives' car was on the wrong side of the road when it collided with the motorcycle ridden by Shaun Starr and Keith Buck.

David Shattock, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, repeated his view that the riots were orchestrated by people from other areas of Bristol.

Visiting Bristol Royal Infirmary to see an injured officer, he pointed to the fact that only three of the 21 people arrested on Saturday night were from Hartcliffe.

Two cars were set on fire on Saturday night and bricks were thrown at police vans and riot officers during a series of skirmishes which continued until 3am yesterday. Last night eight people had been charged with breach of the peace, criminal damage or possession of offensive weapons.

While Hartcliffe residents agree that outsiders took part in the confrontations, some believe that the ringleaders were locals and that it was not until the trouble started that people from other areas turned up to join in.

Avon and Somerset police said it could not supply evidence for Mr Shattock's assertion. 'These are intelligence matters,' it said.

Two teenage joyriders were killed last night when the stolen BMW they were driving was in collision with another car at Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey. Eight others, including four children under 12, were injured.