The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Civil unrest: Widespread rioting and looting across London

Burning buildings, petrol bombs, attacks on police officers, rioting and looting of the like not witnessed since the 1995 Brixton riots took place in Tottenham, North London on Saturday 6 August.

The evening started with a peaceful protest about the killing of Mark Duggan by the police on Thursday (4 August). Duggan was allegedly a member of a local gang involved with drugs and gun crime.

Family and friends of Duggan had planned a peaceful march to demand justice for his death, but the protest turned to violence and disorder and by evening, Tottenham was ablaze. The police sent in vans, officers and horse-mounted officers, cordoning off the High Road.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and other projectiles were thrown at the police, and 26 officers were injured.

The looting continued into the next day, spreading to Wood Green, North London. The fires were eventually put out in the early hours of Sunday morning when fire fighters were finally able to reach the affected areas, having been threatened by rioting mobs.

Then on Sunday evening, 7 August, 'copycat' criminal activity spread to Enfield, Waltham Forest, Walthamstow and Islington in North London, to Brixton in South London and Oxford Circus in the West End.

More than 100 people have been arrested so far and at least a further 11 police officers have been injured.
Speaking of the riots, local shop owner Derek Lewis said: "I was here during the Keith Blakelock riot in the 80s, but that was contained on a housing estate, this was 100 times worse. This community was already dying, now it's dead. I can't see how it will come back from this."

However, while the Tottenham riots were committed by people feeling aggrieved about police treatment, the looting that took place on Sunday night was mainly by opportunists.

Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock said: "This is not groups of people acting on behalf of communities or with any consent.

"This is individuals who are actually attacking communities, businesses, properties and houses and actually causing a huge amount of upset and criminality."

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London and Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: "Obviously there are people in this city, sadly, who are intent on violence, who are looking for the opportunity to steal and set fire to buildings and create a sense of mayhem, whether they're anarchists or part of organised gangs or just feral youth frankly, who fancy a new pair of trainers."

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said: "Last night, police officers again put themselves in harm's way to protect Londoners and their property.
"Londoners have made clear that there are no excuses for violence, and I call on all members of local communities to work constructively with the police to help them bring these criminals to justice."

Related links:
Read more on the story (BBC)
Read 'Can I make a citizen's arrest?' (FindLaw)
Find local specialist solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw