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Can We Use The History Of UK Riots To Predict And Prepare For The Future?

The 2011 riots in Tottenham seemed to have quite a few similarities to those in Brixton in 1981, but there are also some notable differences.

The 2011 riots started after rumours the police were mistreating a local black man; it began with petrol bombs and was followed by rioting across London; it then spread to certain areas in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

What were the similarities?

  • Both riots took place while a Conservative Prime Minister was struggling to cope with the massive effects of a global economic slump and increasing levels of unemployment
  • Both had created a strong sense of unity for everyone involved


What were the differences?

  • The 2011 riots spread throughout numerous English cities over four nights, whereas the 1981 riots took three months to spread from Brixton to major cities such as Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham
  • In 2011 the media were quick to blame technology, (which was seen by many as a scapegoat) stating that the widespread disturbances were caused by social media such as Facebook and Twitter resulting in the riots to go viral by ‘encouraging’ others to join
  • In the 2011 riots, much of the criminal activity was captured on CCTV, leading to over 4000 arrests and many convictions. In 1981, CCTV was not as popular, so a large number of rioters went unpunished


Can we use previous accounts of riots to predict for future disturbances?


If we consider the main examples of UK rioting, we are able to find patterns in the circumstances that provide the catalysts;

  • Brixton 1981 riots
  • London 2011 riots
  • Handsworth and Toxteth 1980s riots
  • Oxford, Cardiff and Tyneside early 1990s riots


The circumstances shared by all involved the following themes;

  • Poverty
  • Deprivation
  • Isolation
  • High levels of unemployment amongst youth


Are global economic slumps a warning sign for riots? And if so, in future cases, what can we do to reduce damages?

Primarily, we need to assess the damage caused in previous riots.

The Damage

In almost every major outbreak of civil disorder over the past 30 years, there has been an unfortunate focus on looting in local business, with the damage increasing every time. The 1981 riots ended with approximately 30 commercial properties being burned, and over 100 damaged and looted. Then, in the 2011 riots, approximately 2,500 shops and businesses were looted.


How can business owners protect their premises in case of future riots?

There are many precautions that a business owner can take to protect their property, to deter or even catch vandals or thieves;

  • CCTV
  • Floodlights
  • Security / roller shutters
  • Toughened glass windows


CCTV and floodlights are likely to deter a rioter. After the 2011 riots saw one particular case of 36 year old rioter, Junior Saunders, sentenced to 5 years in prison, people will need to think twice in order to avoid a jail term of their own.

Security shutters could be considered the most effective way to secure your premises against theft and vandalism. Midland Shopfronts manufactures and installs quality security shutters. Based in the Birmingham area but supplying the whole of the UK, we create bespoke solutions for your shop, healthcare business, warehouse or offices. Visit our website here.

So, don’t wait for another riot to break outArticle Submission, protect your property and your business before the damage is done.

Source: Free Articles from


Midland Shopfronts is a West Bromwich based company with great experience in the manufacturing and installation of shop shutters, roller shutters, security shutters and all types of entrance systems.

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