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Nottingham ‘yobbos’ being brought to justice

Order has been restored to the streets of Nottingham following two nights of violence in the city, and the process of punishing those responsible has begun. No significant incidents were reported overnight but more arrests were made, bringing the overall total to over 100 people. So far over 60 people have been charged, with the Nottingham Magistrates Court opening earlier than usual today to move proceedings along as quickly as possible. With the help of CCTV and forensic evidence, more arrests are expected.

An 11-year-old girl in foster care was amongst those who had been charged with criminal damage and attempted criminal damage of shop windows. The girl pleaded guilty and was given a 9 month referral order. The court heard that the girl was with a group of up to 40 boys and girls throwing missiles at properties in the city centre, and she admitted that she “wanted to join in”. When asked by district judge Morris Cooper if she knew that she could get into trouble, the girl replied “Yes, but I didn’t think I would get caught”. BBC News producer Carolyn Bramble tweeted that the girl “smirked in the dock” when her father asked her to apologise.

Earlier in the day, district judge Tim Devas found Craig Cave, a 26-year-old from Beeston, guilty of obstructing the police. During his court appearance, Judge Devas shouted at Mr Cave: “Let me give you a piece of worldly advice: get a life, sort yourself out. Don’t you feel ashamed that you are now counted among the hundreds of yobbos arrested and now considered as scum by the public?” Cave was given a £60 fine. Nottingham MP Chris Leslie was one of the voices calling for stronger penalties to be given, but Judge Devas said that any criticisms of sentences should be directed towards the government and added “Do not blame the judges or the magistrates who do their jobs professionally and abide by the guidelines set down”.

The average age of those arrested is 20, with several dozen under the age of 18. Three 14-year-olds were charged with violent disorder, and a father and son were charged in relation to an assault on a police officer. The remaining charges are mainly for violent disorder and public order offences. 15 people connected with the attack on Canning Circus police station have been charged with intentional arson and violent disorder.

Jon Collins, Nottingham City Council Leader, and Chris Langstaff, Nottingham City Homes Chief Executive, yesterday announced that council tenants who have been involved in the recent disturbances may be evicted. Collins added that this extends to their children as well, saying “If young people living in your home have been involved in violence over the past few days, they are putting your tenancy at risk”. The announcement has caused controversy, including criticism in the House of Commons earlier today amongst those who claim that eviction doesn’t solve the problem and simply moves trouble-makers elsewhere. However, Chris Langstaff noted “It is a breach of your tenancy agreement to commit acts of anti-social behaviour such as noise and disturbance.”

Although groups of youths were reported in various locations across the city last night, these were moved on without trouble. Reports of incidents including criminal damage were minor and significantly lower than the previous nights of disorder. In fact, police reported that the overall number of people on the streets last night was lower than would normally be expected on a typical Wednesday evening, despite the police advising people that there was no need to stay at home.

Nottinghamshire police put approximately 800 police officers, PCSOs, Special Constables and CPOs on duty throughout the night, as well as dog handlers and mounted police to provide a particularly visible presence. Assistant Chief Constable Paul Scarrott said “Last night we had our strongest presence yet on the streets lest anyone had failed to get the zero-tolerance message…and the hard work paid off.” He added that “there will be no let up in our determination to take swift action against anyone who decides to break the law…we will continue to have at our disposal significant numbers of officers on duty”.

The continued use of social media played its part in calming local residents and separating rumour from fact. To deal with increased traffic to the Nottinghamshire Police website, they also set up a tumblr blog that gave regular updates along with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Head of Corporate Communications Matt Tapp said “We have demonstrated how social media can capture fast-time intelligence to prevent crime and garner huge public support from thousands of residents. This will revolutionise how we use communications to prevent and detect crime and gain and retain public confidence.”

Nottinghamshire Police say they have been “humbled” by the volume of supportive messages over the past few days. They gave their thanks for the “totally overwhelming amount of messages” and how it had been a “big boost for our officers and staff”. Paul Scarott said that one of his commanders had been given a standing ovation from local residents when he went to a public meeting in the Meadows area of the city yesterday. They have also reported receiving “a flurry” of applications to become Special Constables from members of the public keen to protect their community. On Twitter, local people expressed their eagerness to join the ‘Riot Cleanup’ campaign, otherwise known as the ‘Broom Army’. However, it appears that the council managed to clear up the city this morning before any volunteers were needed.

Fiona Crosby

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    24 August 2011 at 04:22
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