Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry

Here’s a message from Keith Vaz about the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the riots. Whilst I’m happy they’re conducting this inquiry, and think they’ll do a good job, I think we need a full public inquiry, along the lines of the Scarman inquiry in the 1980s, which would have more time to devote to the topic, and could be more wide-ranging.

It could look not just at the events of the past week, but at other civil unrest, from the student/EMA protests, the March 26 march against the cuts which attracted some trouble, and Stokes Croft… All very different in origin and in the way they played out, but I think there are commonalities which should be examined.

I also hope that the Committee is given detailed evidence before it starts its work on, for example, the age, ethnicity and backgrounds of those involved in the rioting. I’m concerned that assumptions are being made, which aren’t necessarily borne out by the facts. And I hope that looking at ‘the role of organised groups in promoting disorder’ also looks at the involvement of the EDL and their attempts to capitalise on the trouble.

If anyone in Bristol has any suggestions as to who could give evidence to the Committee – but in relation to this week, not Stokes Croft – then please get in touch.


The Home Affairs Select Committee has today announced an inquiry into the riots which have occurred across the country since Saturday. Please find below the terms of reference for this inquiry. The Committee is due to commence evidence sessions in early September. We are also keen to hear from any Members who have had disorders in their constituencies, and suggestions of possible witnesses.


The Home Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry into the lessons that may be learned from the widescale rioting and looting by predominantly young people in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester and other cities in August 2011. In particular, the Committee is interested in:

  • Police relations with the communities where violence took place before the riots, including similarities with and differences from previous public disorder events;
  • The role of social media in spreading disorder and in the response to it;
  • The role of organised groups in promoting disorder;
  • The role of the IPCC, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, and ACPO/NPIA public order guidance;
  • The techniques used by the police to quell the rioting, including:

a)            Decisions taken over the deployment of police officers (availability of officers, response times)

b)            The use of standard techniques: containment, dispersal, specialist public order officers, dogs, horses,

c)            The deployment of non-standard techniques: armoured police cars, baton rounds, water cannon, curfews

  • Variations in the responses of different police forces;
  • Lessons to be learned from the police response to previous public disorder incidents;
  • Training of officers to deal with riots;
  • Whether there were any constraints on the police such as limited resources or powers;
  • Whether there should be any changes to the legislation regulating normal policing processes during times of major disorder;
  • Whether the age of many of the rioters constrained the police in their use of anti-riot technique;
  • The application of the Riot (Damages) Act 1886; and
  • To revisit relevant recommendations made in previous Home Affairs Committee reports into Policing the G20 protests and Knife crime, and other relevant recommendations, to assess if they have been implemented by successive governments.
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