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Two years on, rioters warned that police are still after them

It's exactly 2 years since violent disorder rocked the nation - and left dozens of properties vandalised in the centre of Wolverhampton.

On the night of 9 August, 2011, hundreds of people took the streets of Wolverhampton and indiscriminately started attacking shops and offices, smashing windows and stealing property.

They were copying scenes which had been witnessed in towns and cities across the country over the previous few nights, sparked by a protest in London following the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police. The disorder that followed was dubbed the "BlackBerry riots" because people used mobile devices and social media to organise gatherings.

This week, on the second anniversary of those shameful scenes, West Midlands Police revealed that they had identified and dealt with more than 90 per cent of those involved.

The arrest total now stands at 775, and Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, who is managing the ongoing investigation, has warned the remaining suspects that they can never rest easy.

The images of 79 people − many of them very high quality − remain on the West Midlands Police website, with officers currently processing intelligence about several of them.

Assistant Chief Constable Forsyth said: "Even 2 years on, we have detectives regularly reviewing the information we have about the outstanding suspects and going after them.

"If you were involved and we haven't yet come for you and you're sat at home thinking you've got away with it, my message to you is that you haven't. We will find you and we will use the full force of the law to bring you to justice. The best thing you can do is hand yourself in."

The city council and its partners have done a great deal of work since the evening of disorder experienced in Wolverhampton on 9 August, 2011.

Some 47 businesses in the city, mainly shops, were vandalised during the riots, including 25 large multinational businesses and 22 independent organisations.

Most had their windows smashed but some, such as clothes shop le Monde on Victoria Street, phone shop Digitech Master, jewellers EV Beckett and clothes shop Zhapp on Queen Street and Broad Street computer shop Sunitak.com were totally looted, with thousands of pounds worth of stock being taken.

The council responded quickly to the vandalism, with staff from Public Realm Services getting to work first thing the following morning to clear away broken glass and debris. They were joined by residents, community leaders, local councillors and MPs who, organised via social media sites, came along to help out with the tidy up. They also found weapons and suspected stolen property like laptops which were handed in to the police.

Within 24 hours, the council and representatives from WVOne had compiled a list of businesses known to have been hit, and visited those most badly affected to offer support and advice.

In addition, the council supported shopkeepers to make insurance claims, with insurers helpfully paying out 25% of the anticipated claims up front which enabled local businesses to maintain cash flow for repairs and stock.

Many shops, particularly independent traders, were left feeling vulnerable and wanted to improve their security to prevent a repeat of the vandalism in the future.

As a result, the council made grants of up to £6,000 available to independent retailers to install security shutters or grills or CCTV. Grants worth a total of £56,227.60 were approved with 14 businesses benefitting. The money was later reclaimed from the Department Of Communities and Local Government's High Street Support Fund.

In addition, affected businesses were invited to speak to the council's Business Rates Team to see if they were entitled to a temporary reduction in business rates.

In the months that have followed, the council has been working hard to respond to the key themes identified in the Government's After The Riots report, which sought to develop social and economic resilience in the affected areas and said that individuals, the state and private and voluntary sectors all had roles to play.

The city council has always recognised the importance of early intervention, and is providing intensive help and support to hundreds of the city's most under pressure families through its Troubled Families programme.

Meanwhile, the city's Local Neighbourhood Partnerships teamed up with Crimestoppers to train up four secondary schools to deliver the Fearless programme to pupils, highlighting the choices and consequences related to crime. The city is also working hard to close the educational gap and reduce the number of pupils excluded from school.

Getting more young people into work is an important goal for the council. As a result, it has offered dozens of apprentices to young people in the city and is encouraging other employers to do likewise. The council is also supporting local businesses in their corporate social responsibilities through the development of a City Centre Business Improvement District which will give them a much greater say in how the city centre is managed.

Social media is now being used by neighbourhood wardens to extend their reach into communities - including to young people - while the council is encouraging young people to become involved in their city through specific projects within neighbourhoods and via the Youth Service.

The city's Community Cohesion Forum meets regularly, with community leaders playing an active role in identifying and helping address any tensions within the city, particularly around cultural and racial matters, and to tackle any problems that are found.

Finally, the city council and its partners have also been involved in the Department for Work and Pensions' Improving Information Sharing and Management project, which encourages organisations to share data in a "risk aware" rather than "risk averse" manner. As a result, the council and its partners have improved the way they share information about a whole range of issues, including safeguarding and gang culture.

  • released: Friday 9 August, 2013