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A year ago, major UK cities were in the grip of riots which began in London and spread north – including to Liverpool and Birkenhead. Three nights of violence and fear followed. JOHN SUTTON looks back
ABOUT the only advantage of this year’s dismal summer has been the overtime worked by one of the most effective and cheapest law enforcement officers in the world – PC Rain is on seemingly constant duty.
A scorching start to August, 2011, was just one of the catalysts of what turned into three nights of disorder on the 8, 9 and 10.
But, unlike the Toxteth riots of 30 years before, which gave Liverpool an infamous tag from which it is still recovering, there was not one event that made the youths clad in dark sportswear take to the streets.
This was “copycat rioting” said commentators, struggling to find a cause for why a sub-section of society felt anarchy reigned, spurred on by social networking sites and television pictures of their peers walking off unchallenged with expensive electrical goods and designer clothes.
They hurled missiles at police on Smithdown Road and Lawrence Road, in Wavertree, tore up shop shutters and torched cars. Sometimes they risked jail for a handful of chocolate bars, a few boxes of cigarettes and some cans of warm larger or cheap cider looted from off-licences.
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Cllr Steve Munby, Liverpool’s member for neighbourhoods, saw his Riverside ward suffer more than anywhere else in the city, and told the ECHO how the city’s crooks seized their chance.
He said: “What you got was all the criminals around Merseyside piling in to have a ruck with the police, who were to a certain extent caught off their guard.
“The rioters were organising themselves with new technology, so a relatively small number of them could move around quickly to cause a lot of damage, it was opportunistic.