Civil Defence Supply

Research, development, testing, manufacture, supply and training of specialised Defence and Law Enforcement products

History 4

Riots spread across the United Kingdom - 1985

1985 was the year of pan-United Kingdom rioting with ferocious and sustained public disorder in most major cities.  The causes have been the subject of academic and political analysis for decades afterwards with localised incidents increasing in severity initiated by some form of incident that has aggravated certain elements of the local population.

The police had better training and equipment but the threat they faced was exceptionally violent and sustained. Massive property damage occurred with looting and general criminality.  The first evidence-gathering took place using long range lenses to identify looters and rioters which proved to be very successful and now forms part of every police formation as port-incident arrests and convictions are proved to act as a huge deterrent. DRAGON Searchlights were part of every night-time police formation as street-lighting was vandalised.

If the 1985 riots are analysed they all followed a pattern of events often sparked off by base sociological issues, poverty and localised unemployment. The Miner’s Strike had just ended and political dissatisfaction was rife.

The Hansworth Riots in Birmingham 9th to 11th September were reportedly sparked by the arrest of a man near the Acapulco Cafe, Lozells and a police raid on the Villa Cross public house in the same area. Hundreds of people attacked police and property, looting and smashing, even setting off fire bombs.   The Brixton Riots soon followed on 28th September sparked by the shooting of Dorothy 'Cherry' Groce by police, while they sought her son Michael Groce in relation to a suspected firearms offence.  A week later on 6th October the Broadwater Farm riot was sparked off by the death of Cynthia Jarrett, an African-Caribbean woman who died the previous day from heart failure during a police search of her home.


Broadwater Farm riot 6th October and the death of PC Keith Blakelock

Hansworth Riots Birmingham 9-11th September                                                         Brixton Riots 28th September

Public Order Training was now a specialisation every UK police officer had to undertake annually.  Command and control was highly successful at all levels. Personal equipment was reviewed and deficiencies identified.  

Tactics had to change as a number of fundamental reviews took place that all concluded that police had to be more dynamic and reactive to fluid situations and not static.

Injuries could be mitigated and did affected police morale. Better overhead protection was called for as thrown missiles and dropped objects were prevalent.

Civil Defence Supply was part of that process.