2011 England riots

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Not to be confused with 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests.

As this subject is related to Britain, use of British English Wp→ is best.
2011 England riots
London Riots - Clapham.jpg
Private-owned retail stores damaged by riots in Clapham, London
Date 6 to 10 August 2011
Location Several districts of London, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Bristol and several other areas.[1][2]
Characteristics Rioting, looting, arson, robbery, assault, murder
Reported fatalities and injuries
5 deaths[3][4][5]
16+ members of public injured[6][7][8]
186 police officers injured + 5 police dogs[9][10][11]

The 2011 England Riots, also often referred to as 2011 London Riots and 2011 Tottenham Riots, took place from 6 to 10 August 2011, originally beginning in Tottenham, North London, before spreading to other areas of London, and then to other major cities and towns across England. Widespread rioting, arson and looting occurred, along with injuries to the public and police, and the death of five members of the public.

The first night of rioting took place on 6 August 2011 after a peaceful protest in Tottenham, following the death of Mark Duggan Wp→, a local man from the area, who was shot dead by police on 4 August 2011.[12] Youths from the nearby Broadwater Farm estate arrived at the scene a few hours after, which led to the violence beginning. Several clashes with police, along with the damage of police vehicles, a double-decker bus, homes and businesses, began gaining attention from the media. Overnight, looting took place in Tottenham Hale Retail Park and nearby Wood Green.

The following days saw similar scenes in other parts of London with the worst violence taking place in Hackney, Brixton, Chingford, Peckham, Enfield, Croydon, Ealing and East Ham. The city centre in Oxford Circus was also attacked.

From August 8 onwards, other cities in England including Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, along with several towns, saw what was described by the conservative media as 'copycat violence'.

The riots were characterised by rampant looting and arson attacks of unprecedented levels. As a result, British Prime Minister David Cameron returned early from his holiday in Italy and other government and opposition leaders also ended their holidays to attend to the matter. All police leave was cancelled and Parliament was recalled on 11 August to debate the situation.

As of 15 August, about 3,100 people had been arrested, of whom more than 1,000 had been charged.[13] Arrests, charges and court proceedings continue. Initially, courts sat for extended hours. There were a total 3,443 crimes across London linked to the disorder.[14]

Five people died and at least 16 others were injured as a direct result of related violent acts. An estimated £200 million worth of property damage was incurred, and local capitalistic activity was significantly compromised.

Heavy-handed police action was blamed for the initial riot, and the subsequent police reaction was criticised as being neither appropriate nor sufficiently effective. The riots have generated significant ongoing debate among political, social and academic figures about the causes and context in which they happened.[9][13][15][16]

Background to the initial disturbances in London

The riots occurred 26 years after the Broadwater Farm riot in the Tottenham area,[17] which were unrelated to the 2011 riots.

Police shooting of Mark Duggan

Ferry Lane, Tottenham Hale, location of the shooting

On 4 August 2011, a police officer shot and killed 29-year-old Mark Duggan during an attempt to arrest him, on the Ferry Lane bridge, next to Tottenham Hale station.[18][19][20][21] It is not yet known why police were attempting to arrest Duggan, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that the planned arrest was part of Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime within the black community.[16] The incident had been referred to the IPCC,[18][22] which is standard practice if death or serious injury follows police contact.[23]

After the shooting, the media widely reported that a bullet was found embedded in a police radio, implying Duggan fired on the police.[24] Friends and relatives of Duggan are reported to have said that he was unarmed.[25] The Guardian later reported that initial ballistics tests on the bullet recovered from the police radio indicate that it was a "very distinct" police issue hollow-point bullet.[24][26] The IPCC later stated that a loaded Bruni BBM blank-firing pistol, converted to fire live ammunition, was recovered from the scene.[27][28][29][30] It was wrapped in a sock and there was no evidence that it had been fired.[31]

On 13 August, the Independent Police Complaints Commission admitted that Duggan did not open fire, stating, "It seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to [wrongly] believe that shots were exchanged". The bullet that had lodged in an officer's radio is believed to have been an overpenetration, having passed through Duggan’s body.[32][33]

At lunchtime on 6 August, 7 hours before the march and subsequent riot took place, a meeting was called by police between local community leaders, councillors and members of police advisory groups. In this meeting, police were warned several times that there could possibly be another riot similar to the Broadwater Farm riot of 1985 if local concerns regarding the death were not addressed.[34][35]

Protest march

On 6 August a protest was held, initially peacefully, beginning at Broadwater Farm and finishing at Tottenham police station.[36] The protest was organised by friends and relatives of Duggan to demand justice for the family.[16][37][38] Rioting occurred shortly after about 120 people marched from the Broadwater Farm estate to Tottenham Police Station via the High Road.[39] The group of some 200 people demanded that a senior local police officer come out to speak to them. They stayed in front of the police station hours longer than they originally planned because they were not satisfied with the seniority of the officers available at the time. A younger and more aggressive crowd arrived at the scene around dusk, some carrying weapons. Further violence broke out based on an allegation that the police had attacked a 16-year-old girl.[15][17][40]


Rioters attempt to loot from a cycle shop in Chalk Farm, Camden
Bank workers in Walthamstow observe the destruction which was caused in the early hours of the morning

The 6 August peaceful march in Tottenham was followed by rioting and looting, first in Tottenham and later in Tottenham Hale retail park.[41] The spread of news and rumours about the previous evening's disturbances in Tottenham sparked riots during the night of 7 August in the London districts of Brixton, Enfield, Islington and Wood Green and in Oxford Circus in the centre of London.[41]

The morning of 8 August was quiet, but by evening areas across London were affected by widespread looting, arson and violence, with significant outbreaks in parts of Battersea, Brixton, Bromley, Camden, Chingford Mount, Croydon, Ealing, East Ham, Hackney, Harrow, Lewisham, Peckham, Stratford, Waltham Forest, Woolwich and Woodgreen. A man was found shot in Croydon, and died later in hospital. Another man who had been assaulted in Ealing died in hospital on 11 August. Localised outbreaks of copycat actions were reported outside London – notably in Birmingham, Bristol, Gloucester, Gillingham and Nottingham.[41][42]

Following a greatly increased police presence, London was quiet on 9 August, but copycat actions continued in Birmingham (where, according to the police account, eleven shots were fired at police, including at a police helicopter, and petrol bombs thrown at officers[43][dead link]) and Nottingham and spread to Leicester, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton in the Midlands and to Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Wythenshawe, Sefton and Wirral in the north-west of England.[41] On 10 August, London remained quiet while hundreds of arrests were being made by the police. Three men were killed in Birmingham in a hit-and-run incident related to the disturbances. Looting and violence continued in two locations around Manchester and Liverpool.[41]

Throughout the rioting, many of the looters did not bother to cover their faces as they raided capitalistic electrical shops, sports shops and off-licences. Some posed for pictures with stolen goods, posting them on social-networking sites.[44]

There were reports that the BlackBerry Messenger service was used by looters to organise their activities, and that inflammatory and inaccurate accounts of events on social media sites may have incited disturbances.[45][46][47]


Deaths and injuries

Trevor Ellis

26-year-old Trevor Ellis, of Brixton Hill, died following a shooting in Croydon, South London.[3][48][49] His family denied reports that Ellis, who had come from the Brixton area to Croydon with a group of friends, had been involved in looting.[50][51]

Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir

On 10 August, in Winson Green, Birmingham, three men – Haroon Jahan, 21 and brothers Shahzad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31 – were killed in a hit-and-run incident while attempting to protect their neighbourhood from rioters and looters.[4][52][53] A 26 year old man, a 23 year old man and a 17 year old youth appeared in court charged with murder and were remanded in custody.[54]

Richard Mannington Bowes

A 68-year-old man, Richard Mannington Bowes, died on 11 August after he was attacked while attempting to stamp out a litter-bin fire in Ealing on the evening of 8 August.[55]

Bowes was attacked by members of a mob on 8 August 2011, while attempting to extinguish a fire that had been deliberately started in industrial bins on Spring Bridge Road. The attack inflicted severe head injuries which resulted in a coma. The assault was caught on CCTV and reportedly filmed on mobile phones by associates of the alleged assailant.[56] The attack on Bowes was witnessed by several police officers, but due to the number of rioters they were unable to come to his aid until riot squad officers pushed back the rioters while being attacked in order to reach Bowes. A line of officers then held back the rioters as paramedics arrived.[57] Bowes's wallet and phone had been stolen, and police faced difficulty in identifying him. He died of his injuries in St Mary's Hospital on 11 August 2011 after being removed from life support.[58][59]

Many tributes were paid to Bowes, including Ealing Council who flew the Union Flag at half-mast over its town hall and announced the launch of a relief fund in his name,[60] and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who described him as a hero.[61]

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of Bowes' murder, rioting and committing three burglaries;[62][63] he was released on bail. A 16-year-old male who lives in Hounslow was charged with murdering Bowes, violent disorder and four burglaries.[64][65] He appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court on 16 August 2011, where he was remanded in custody until his appearance at the Central Criminal Court on 18 August 2011.[64] His 31 year-old mother[66] was charged with perverting the course of justice.[64]


Burnt-out and vandalised car in Hackney with graffiti
Double-deck bus burning in 2011 England riots

In London, between Monday afternoon and the early hours of Tuesday, 14 people were injured by rioters. These included a 75-year-old woman who suffered a broken hip in Hackney.[6]

In Barking, East London, 20-year-old Malaysian student Mohammad Asyraf Haziq was beaten and then robbed twice by looters emptying his rucksack. Footage of the second mugging, which appears to show the second set of muggers pretend to help him then proceed to ransack his rucksack, was uploaded onto YouTube. He suffered a broken jaw, requiring surgery.[8][67]

In Chingford, East London, three police officers were hit by a car used as a getaway vehicle by a group who looted the Aristocrat store on Chingford Mount Road. Two of the officers were seriously injured and taken to hospital.[68]

In total, 186 police officers were injured.[9] Five police dogs were also reported injured.[69]

10 firefighters were injured as the London Fire Brigade dealt with over 100 serious fires caused by the disturbances. The LFB also reported that eight of its fire engines had their windscreens smashed and that two fire cars were attacked.[70]

Property and business damage

Vehicles, homes and shops were attacked and set alight.[71] Shopkeepers estimated the damages in their Tottenham Hale and Tottenham branches at several million pounds.[72] The riots caused the irretrievable loss of heritage architecture.[73] It was estimated that retailers lost at least 30,000 trading hours.[74]

The Association of British Insurers said they expect the industry to pay out in excess of £200 million.[75] Estimated losses in London were indicated to be in the region of £100m.[76]

On 8 August 2011, a Sony DADC warehouse in Enfield at Enfield Lock, which also acted as the primary distribution centre for independent music distributor PIAS Entertainment Group, was destroyed by fire.[77][78] Initially, because millions of items of stock were lost, including most of PIAS's inventory, it was thought that long-term damage to the British independent music industry might result.[77][79][80][81] As of 18 August 2011 (2011 -08-18), PIAS confirmed that their operations are back to normal.[82] On 11 August 2011, London police reported that they had arrested three teenagers in connection with the warehouse fire.[83]

Capitalist propaganda newspaper Financial Times reported that an analysis showed that 48,000 local businesses - shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs - had suffered financial losses as a result of the looting and rioting in English streets.[84]


Four London buses were set on fire during the riots.

  • Evening of 6 August: Arriva London North DAF DB250L/Alexander ALX400 double decker DLA284 (Y484 UGC) was destroyed on Tottenham High Road.
  • Evening of 8 August: Abellio London Dennis Trident/Alexander ALX400 double decker 9755 (YN51 KVM) was destroyed at Reeves Corner, Croydon.
  • Late afternoon of 8 August: Go Ahead London Central Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2 double decker WVL302 was set alight in Peckham, but not destroyed.
  • Late afternoon of 8 August: First Capital Dennis Dart SLF/Caetano Nimbus single decker DMC41496 (LK03 NMF) was set alight at Dalston, but not destroyed.

Many other London buses were damaged, with broken windows etc.

On 9 August, Croydon's Tramlink Wp→ was partly shut down due to damage inflicted along its route.[85] Transport for London, London Overground and London Underground shut Barking, Peckham Rye and Harrow-on-the-Hill and Hackney Central stations. The train operating company Southern later announced that trains were not stopping at many stations in south London.[85] National Express Coaches stopped serving Wolverhampton and suburban stops in the Birmingham area (but not Birmingham Coach Station itself) as well as Manchester (but not Manchester Airport).[86]

Suggested contributory factors

The causes of the 2011 England riots both immediate and long term have been the subject of media and academic debate. Several speculations have emerged as to what the likely contributory factors might be for the riots; from socio-economic causes focusing on unemployment and spending cuts, as well as social media, gang culture and criminal opportunism. The House of Commons Home Affairs select committee will begin examining the police response to the riots in late 2011. The leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, called for a public inquiry into the wider causes of the riots and has stated that his party will set up such an inquiry if the right wing coalition fails to do so.[87] The UK was shaken by worst riots in decades.[88]

Capitalism in crisis

Marxist UK newspaper Socialist Appeal identified the increasingly Capitalist nature of the British establishment as the main reason behind the riots. The decay of society in the country, "which offers everything to the rich and nothing to the rest", was seen as the result of the incompetence of Capitalism in "providing what people in Tottenham and elsewhere want and need - decent jobs, services, housing and, above all, a future".[89]

Poor relations with police

The riots in Tottenham after the death of Mark Duggan were initially blamed on poor relations between the police and the black community.[90][91] Professor Gus John from the University of London has argued that the tactical use of frequent "Stop and search", particularly of young black men, has caused resentment of the police in the black community.[92]

According to David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, the "cracks that already existed between the police and the community became deep fissures".[93][94]

Social exclusion

Camila Batmanghelidjh writing in The Independent blamed social exclusion and social deprivation.[95]

In a House of Commons debate on the riots, Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May stated that the riots were symptomatic of a "wider malaise" including worklessness, illiteracy, and drug abuse but also stated that "Everybody, no matter what their background or circumstances, has the freedom to choose between right and wrong".[96]

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair writing in The Observer, stated that the riots were not caused by a broken society, but due to a group of young, alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour, he said that this is found in virtually every developed nation.[97]

Various journalists have identified poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor as causative factors.[98][99][100]

A journalist on Al Jazeera suggested a similarity to the disenfranchisement behind the Arab Spring revolutionary wave of 2011. Links were made to high youth unemployment and general disenfranchisement.[101]

A study by the The Financial Times published in September 2011 found a strong link between rioting and deprivation.[102]

Family breakdown

Christina Odone writing in the Daily Telegraph linked the riots to a lack of male role models and argues that "Like the overwhelming majority of youth offenders behind bars, these gang members have one thing in common: no father at home."[103] This has been linked further with England's having the "worst record in family breakdown in Europe".[104]

Government cuts

The spending cuts of the coalition government in the United Kingdom has also been cited as a cause. Ken Livingstone, the Labour Candidate for Mayor of London in 2012 has argued that the "The economic stagnation and cuts being imposed by the Tory government inevitably create social division."[105] Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats political party, made it clear that the government's planned cuts to police budgets will go ahead.[106]

The local government budget had been cut in the past year so Haringey Council, which includes Tottenham and Tottenham Hale, decided to close eight of its 13 youth clubs in 2011, rather than save money through increased efficiency or make cuts in other areas.[107]

Scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, removing of funding for courses where the student already has an equal or lower level qualification and trebling of university tuition fees, combined with high youth unemployment has placed the British youth 'between a rock and a hard place' alienating and angering the youth population.[108] Proponents of this argument say that Scottish youth did not riot partly because Scottish students do not have to pay tuition fees.[109]


David Lammy MP has said that Tottenham has the highest unemployment rate in London and the eighth highest in the United Kingdom.[110] The number of people chasing every one job vacancy in Haringey has been put at 23 and 54 in separate reports, and fears had spread of disorder after youth club closures in recent months.[111][112][113]

Low economic growth and highest unemployment rate in decades.[94][114][115][116][117] Haringey, has the fourth highest level of child poverty in London and 8.8% unemployed. [118]

Gang culture

In a Newsnight discussion on 12 August, far-right historian David Starkey blamed black gangster culture, saying that it had influenced youths of all races.[119]

Moral decay at the top

Daily Telegraph columnist Peter Oborne suggested that moral decay is just as bad at the top of society as it is at the bottom, with the rich and powerful generating anger among the British population. He cited the MPs' expenses scandal, bankers' bonuses, and the phone hacking scandal as setting poor examples.[120]

See also


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External links

External images
Images of the Tottenham riot on 6 August 2011 (BBC)
Map of the Tottenham riot on 6 August 2011 (Google Maps)
Tottenham Riots: Torched houses, cars in London violence aftermath (YouTube)
Damage at Leyton Mills Currys last night (TwitPic)

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