A consequence of the 1981 riots was that all Police forces started to have proper riot training as well as equipment. Except for Northern Ireland very few members of the Police Service had experienced serious rioting, and none were equipped to deal with them (Schama, 2002, p.551). Plenty of television news coverage and newspaper pictures of the inner-city riots had shown badly injured Police officers with only dustbin lids to protect themselves with. Been properly trained to deal with riots proved highly useful in the 1980s. There were further inner-city riots just four years later in 1985, in Handsworth and Tottenham, one Police officer was even killed in the latter (Watson, 1997, p. 426). There was a great deal of violence that the Police had to deal with during the bitter Miners Strike of 1984 – 85, and the Wapping Dispute (Marr, 2008, p. 411). Riot training was also useful for dealing with the inner-city riots of 2011 (Driver, 2011, p. 4).
Another area in which the Police Service was tasked with preventing violence and public disorder was football hooliganism (Marr, 2008, p. 408). From the late 1960s football hooliganism had grown into a serious issue, violence happened at a great deal of games, and was widely reported at home and abroad (Turner, 2008, p. 272). Hooliganism usually followed the England national team as well as English clubs abroad, with the most tragic consequences at the Heysel Stadium in 1985. In England and Wales the Police countered the problem by increasing their numbers at matches were trouble was expected, and also by erecting perimeter fencing. Then catastrophe struck at the FA Cup Semi-Final at Hilsborough in 1989. The Taylor Report highlighted some serious errors of judgment by the police, but did not condemn any of them (Moran, 2005, p. 34). Since then the fences have gone down, but stewarding, and sound intelligence gathering by the Police has greatly reduced hooliganism (Prins, 2010, p. 191).
The way in which the Police go about their business has been altered by changes in legislation since the 1980s (Prins, 2010, p. 9). The Police And Criminal Evidence Act (1984) was introduced to reduce the chance of wrongful convictions by making sure that every Police force gathered evidence correctly, and that all interviews with suspects were recorded on audio tapes and now recorded by video cameras instead (Reiner, 2000, p. 167). This act was introduced to make the Police more transparent to the public, and raise confidence that the right suspect was been arrested every time, or been released as soon as there was not enough evidence to charge them (Marlow & Pitts, 1997, p. 8).
After all a series of high profile miscarriages of justice , most notably the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four demonstrated that such changes had been long overdue. The problem with those changes was that it increased the amount of paperwork that had to be done. Therefore some forces hired more Police officers so that there were enough of them available to patrol, whilst other forces hired lower paid administrative staff to do the form filling instead (Prins, 2010, p. 11). The Police Service now have to take into account the Human Rights Act (1998) , which gave suspects increased legal rights after been arrested. For instance it is harder to extradite suspected terrorists to countries with the death penalty (Young, 2003, p. 250). At present the Police Service is on the receiving end of something far more threatening than commissions, inquiries, or reports – the public spending cuts imposed by the Conservative – Liberal coalition government (Driver, 2011, p. 6).
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