This Photograph was taken during the Toxteth riots when Merseyside Police officers were called to duty.
Here are just some of the horrific scenes that took place during the toxteth riots, and what the scenes look like today.
1981: burning milk float barricade on Upper Parliament Street
2011: the same scene today
1981: Swainbanks used furniture warehouse in the Rialto burns
2011: the new Rialto building houses shops and a neighbourhood centre
1981: Falkner Terrace
1981: the junction of Granby and Selbourne Street
2011: junction of Granby and Selbourne Street today
Margaret Thatcher was told to ‘abandon Liverpool’ during Toxteth riots.
Files released by the National Archives show that ministers in the Iron Lady’s government urged her not to waste public money on the ‘stony ground’ of Merseyside.
Margaret Thatcher and the home secratary both discussed and agreed that summoning the army to uphold the defence against the riots and stop the disorder “Could not be contemplated”, and even the dreadful decision of arming police with guns was considered. One of the worst things about all of this is that Liverpool was still left in a great decline.
Sir Geoffrey Howe said “We do not want to find ourselves concentrating all the limited cash that may have to be made available into Liverpool and having nothing left for possibly more promising areas such as the West Midlands or, even, the North East… It would be even more regrettable if some of the brighter ideas for renewing economic activity were to be sown only on relatively stony ground on the banks of the Mersey… We must not expend all out limited resources in trying to make water flow uphill.”
He said that he would rather spend money on more “Promising areas..”
Thatcher came round and decided to bring the environment secretary into the situation and start an urban regeneration project, which was frowned upon by many, due to how much money Britain did not have to spare.
During the starting weekend of the Toxteth Riots, there was riots, fights between police and youths, petrol bombs being thrown around, paving stones too. Milk floats had been set alight and directed at police lines. Rioters also used parts of scaffolding to assault police officers and charge at the police lines.
The merseyside police force all had to use protective shields, but event though they did, they weren’t trained enough to know how to use them properly and it just wasn’t enough to stop the petrol bombs and bricks being thrown at them.
On Monday 6 July police officers fired between 25-30 CS gas grenades for the first time in the UK. The gas worked in dispersing the crowds. All together the rioting lasted 9 days during which 468 police officers were injured, 500 people were arrested, and at least 70 buildings were damaged so severely by fires that they had to be demolished. Around 100 cars were destroyed, and there was also looting of shops. Later estimates figured the numbers of injured police officers and destroyed buildings were at least double those of the official figures.
A second wave of rioting began on 27 July 1981 and went on into the early hours of 28 July, with police being attacked again with petrol bomb, bricks and a number of cars being set alight. 26 officers were injured, however this time the Merseyside Police responded by driving vans at speed into the crowds, which made them spread out quicker. This tactic had been developed as a riot control technique in Northern Ireland by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and was successful in quelling the Moss Side riots by the Greater Manchester Police.
The Toxteth Riots hit the news and newspapers straight away and I have found headlines just days after the riots started.
3 JULY 1981: The riots are sparked when 20-year-old Leroy Cooper is Stopped and Searched on Selborne Street in what an angry crowd of locals perceive as a heavy-handed arrest, three policemen are injured in the event.
4 JULY 1981: Extra police are sent out in Toxteth as the riots begin in the early evening. At around 5.30pm police are bombarded with petrol bombs and bricks. The weekend Liverpool ECHO tells the news under the headline “75 hurt in new flare-up of racial violence.”
5 JULY: Columns of police advance towards a crowd of around 300 youths just after midnight and were attacked by bricks and petrol bombs. At the Grove Street junction, gangs build a barricade and pelt cars passing by with stones. Looting begins as businesses and cars are set alight. Around 800 police are now involved in the operation.
6 JULY: The riots spread across L8, with trouble flaring up as far as Park Road, Dingle, where further looting is reported.
7 JULY: Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock make an appeal for peace and urge local people to stay off the streets. Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie also expresses concern. Around 60 people make court appearances on charges linked to the rioting.
8 JULY: Chief Constable Kenneth Oxford says children as young as eight are among those arrested. Government agrees to Mr Oxford’s request to use CS gas. A total of 25 rounds are fired, but in some cases it was reportedly targeted directly at the crowds which was against safety instructions. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher speaks in the Commons about the riots, blaming high unemployment. A call for a debate on the breakdown of law and order in Liverpool is rejected by the Speaker.
11 JULY: Riots broke out on the Stockbridge estate in 1981, in 1982 unemployment had shot up by 49% Burglary and violent crime took place on the estate and the local public were putting their houses and shops up for sale because they didn’t want to live in such an area. Two schools were burned down due to arson attacks and then had to be rebuilt, also car theft and arson on parked vehicles were popular.
On 3rd July 1981, Merseyside Police stopped a young black youth who was riding his bike down Shelbourne Road, Toxteth. Many witnesses stated that Police had been using and abusing their authority as officers to the point of harassment in what appeared to be a racial controversy in the black community.
One main cause of poverty in 1981 was lack of jobs, especially down at the Liverpool docks unemployment was at its highest in 50 years and Toxteth had one of the highest unemployment rates in Britain.
Here is a photograph of two police men patrolling the streets of Toxteth.
Rioting took place more than 20 years ago in Toxteth, Liverpool.. You would think that the inner-city area would be okay now but violence and crime still goes on there.
Shootings, Drug dealing, Graffiti and Theft are some of the things that still go on in the Toxteth area. This part of Liverpool was probably not promoted back in 2008 when Liverpool won the European Capital of Culture..