One year on: Riot police on Leicester’s streets to tackle yobs

It is almost a year since Leicester endured a night of disturbances, which saw shops and businesses attacked and streets vandalised.

The disorder, which first sprung up in London, quickly spread to cities across the country, erupting in Leicester late on August 9.

Scores of shops and restaurants saw their windows smashed, businesses were looted and an Age Concern bus was firebombed.

Here we look back at how the events unfolded.

August 9: In the afternoon, rumours circulate via social networking websites Twitter and Facebook that trouble has broken out in Leicester city centre.

Police confirm there has been no such disturbance. They say on Twitter: “There are a lot of rumours circulating that are unhelpful and unnerving for the community. Please think before you tweet.”

Nevertheless, fears of rioting prompt many businesses to close early. Jewellery shops shut their doors, prompting many other stores to follow suit.

Shortly before 5pm, Leicestershire Police issue a statement reassuring people “we haven’t experienced the kinds of senseless criminal acts that have been seen elsewhere in the country”.

The force, @leicspolice, tweets at 5.26pm: “@reeshasykes no incidents of disorder at #highcross #Leicester #riots”.

The message comes in response to a tweet posted by @reeshx at 5.25pm: “People on my Facebook saying #highcross has been raided?! Anyone on Twitter can confirm this? #Leicester#riots”.

Meanwhile @samsam_x tweets at 9.27pm: “There is no riots in leicester but there is groups of people with banners that say ‘peace on the streets’ that is how it should be!”

But that night windows are smashed at shops and restaurants, including those in Granby Street, Highcross, Halford Street and Loseby Lane.

The disturbance kicks off at around 9.30pm. At about 10pm, gangs of men are seen walking around Loseby Lane carrying table legs, and shop windows are broken.

Four police vans arrive outside Highcross, near the Clock Tower. Teams of police get out carrying toughened plastic riot shields and charge up High Street to join colleagues who are at the far end, near the entrance to St Peter’s Square, in Highcross.

A stand-off ensues between police and around 40 young people, aged mostly in their 20s, who are shouting at officers.

Between 100 and 150 teenagers and adults move around the city causing what Leicestershire Police describe as “sporadic damage”.

Two businesses are looted, and groups of youths taunt police officers and throw stones at riot police.

Officers are stationed on every major road junction of the city centre, and the force’s helicopter hovers overhead as police work to disperse gangs.

Twitter user @naominay writes at 11.25pm: “I can hear police cars and helicopters from my house. There are also very few vehicles on the roads tonight. #Leicester #riots”.

Some vehicles in a car park in Yeoman Street are firebombed, including an Age Concern bus.

Chutney Ivy restaurant, in Halford Street, has some of its windows smashed.

In Granby Street, shops including camera store Jacobs, Nando’s restaurant and pub The Last Plantagenet have their windows shattered.

August 10: By 2am 12 people have been arrested, including three on suspicion of burglary and several for public order offences.

The youngest arrested is 14, and the oldest a 50-year-old man.

After 2am the police are still present but the streets are finally quiet.

Twitter user @nedtrifle writes at 8.40am: “Wish people would stop calling the disorder in #Leicester “riots” – it just glamorizes what was a bunch of thugs smashing some windows.”

In the afternoon Leicestershire Police announce they have cancelled officers’ leave to try to prevent a repeat of disorder in the city centre.

Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon says: “We have cancelled all officers’ rest days so any officer that was due to be on rest days today has now been notified that they are no longer on rest days and it is compulsory 12 hour shifts.”

August 11: Peaceful protesters line the streets of Leicester to try to prevent further violence. A group of about 30 people gather at the Clock Tower waving banners and playing music from about 3.30pm.

Police release CCTV images of people they want to trace after the disorder. The BBC reports 19 people have been arrested in connection with the disturbance.

Leicestershire Police confirm there were no incidents of disorder overnight.

Meanwhile Mayor Peter Soulsby slams the rioters, and insists: “This is not what Leicester is about”.

Writing in the Mercury, he says: “Leicester is a proud, harmonious and peaceful city – and the actions of local people since the disturbances have demonstrated, once again, that our true community spirit is alive and well.”

August 12: Leicestershire Police say the extra policing required during the disorder is expected to cost a quarter of a million pounds.

Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police Simon Cole tells BBC News he expected £250,000 to have been spent on the operation by the end of the weekend.

Police also confirm 33 people have been charged over disturbances. Of those charged, for crimes including violent disorder, burglary and possession of an offensive weapon, 10 are youths aged under 18, the BBC reports.

August 13: A senior Leicestershire Police officer says people should not avoid Leicester city centre at the weekend despite recent disorder.

Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon said high visibility patrols would continue in the city and county over the weekend.

“It’s business as usual,” he said. “My words of advice are there are so many police officers who will be on duty in and around both the city and the county, so go and enjoy yourself”.

August 14: Police make further arrests – the total number stands at 78, with 43 charged.

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