firstname.lastname@example.org (Local Resident) | 09.08.2011 11:55 | August Riots
Local media have made much of the news that rioting which has swept London now seems to have reached Nottingham. There were a number of apparently serious disturbance in St Anns, including an attempted firebombing of the polcie station. There was also an incident in New Basford which the police are claiming is connected. While it is possible that they have access to some intelligence to support this, I am not sure it is an obvious conclusion.
- Shipping container targeted last night
- Car park, used on a number of occasions for dumping and torching stolen cars
- Building burnt down a couple of years ago
In their official statement, Notts Police describe the incidents in St Anns in some detail, but have only one sentence about New Basford: "At a few minutes past midnight, in an incident believed to be linked to the other violence, a container of some 200 tyres were set alight in Gowthorne [sic.] Street, New Basford."
In fact they mean to refer to Gawthorne Street. The spelling mistake (obvious to anybody who bothers to consult a map) is replicated by both the Post and the BBC giving some insight into how little actual journalism is being focused on the story, despite the inevitable interest it has generated.
As a somebody who knows this area quite well I was surprised that the police seemed to be jumping to the conclusion that arson here was connected to activity on the other side of the city when there has been a long-running spate of arson incidents only metres from last night's fire.
The shipping container of tyres which was set fire (1 in the map above) is located in Northgate Place, a small industrial area which also houses local renewable energy cooperative V3 Power. Part of this is a car park (2 in the map) which while busy during the day is both largely empty and unlit at night and has on a number of occasions been used for dumping and torching stolen cars.
Meanwhile, perhaps a 100 metres away, there is a old warehouse building which was burnt down a couple of years ago (3 in the map, subsequently restored/rebuilt). There were also a number of smaller incidents (one of which briefly disrupted power to local homes) and these are only the ones I can recall. I assume the police and fire service have much better records of such incidents.
None of this precludes the possibility that some local firebug was inspired by recent events in London to go out and set another fire. But it is possible that it was simply a coincidence, part of a long-standing local problem. A possibility which Notts Police should be well aware of. Walking past today both the fire service and police scientific support were in attendance so perhaps they know something further, only time will tell.
With some commentators queuing up to advocate that the riots be dealt with by some kind of de facto martial law; putting the army on the streets (to do what? shoot people? because that did such a good job of reducing tensions in Tottenham) it is important that we make a serious effort to understand what is going on. Grand conspiracies make nice stories and compelling headlines, but the real world is often a much more complicated place.
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