Police have issued CCTV images of the suspects believed to have been involved in the latest Bristol riots and are appealing to Evening Post readers for help identifying them.
Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford said: “It is clear that a minority of mindless individuals are intent on causing disruption and criminal damage in our communities. This will not be tolerated.”
So far, 24 people have been arrested on suspicion of offences including theft, criminal damage and violent disorder. Mr Stratford, the deputy commander for Bristol, said: “The wider community should rest assured that we will continue to scrutinise CCTV and other evidence and we anticipate more arrests in the coming days.”
Police and residents are hoping the worst of the disorder has passed. Mr Stratford said that in the early hours of Wednesday a number of incidents were contained because of quick action by police and other services on the ground.
In all, bins and cars were set on fire and shops were damaged in St Paul’s, Montpelier, St Werburgh’s, Kingswood, Clifton, Cabot Circus and Broadmead.
In response, Avon and Somerset police had an extensive, high visibility presence overnight on Tuesday night and last night. They also received help from Dorset police, who sent up two dozen officers.
Police from Avon and Somerset – including mounted officers – were also drafted into Gloucester to boost local police numbers to 200 when disturbances broke out in the city on Tuesday night.
As well as releasing the CCTV images to the media and publishing them on its website the force has set up a campaign on social networking website Facebook to help bring the rioters to book.
Its page includes images and video footage.
Among them are images of a gang of young men and women who broke into Thomas Sabo jewellery shop in Cabot Circus and stole thousands of pounds worth of jewellery, watches and charms in the early hours of Tuesday. CCTV videos and images have been released of the suspects and are among those pictured on today’s front page.
Since the disorder began on Monday night 24 people have been arrested for various offences including violent disorder, criminal damage, assaulting police officers in the execution of their duties and going equipped.
Assistant Chief Constable John Long said: “We will be relentless in our pursuit of the mindless thugs who are intent on violating our communities.
“The internet is a powerful tool and just one of the ways we are tracking down the small minority of criminals who have caused damage and destruction. My message to those individuals, and anyone else considering wreaking havoc, is simple – don’t even think about it. We will catch you and there will be serious consequences.”
Bristol South Labour MP Dawn Primarolo has praised the emergency services for ensuring that any further disorder since Tuesday morning has been limited.
Ms Primarolo said: “The dedication and bravery of our emergency services has never been in doubt.
“Bristol is a safe city, where we get along with each other.
“Bristolians will not tolerate this thuggish behaviour which has threatened our city in the past few days, and we will support the police in their efforts to keep our streets safe.”
Referring to police funding cuts following on from last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review, she said: “The first priority for the Government must be to keep the streets safe so that people are free to go to work, socialise with friends and use shops, bars and restaurants.
“We have seen in London that increasing the number of police officers on the streets helps make decent people feel safe and deters criminal activity.”
“In time, the Government must reflect on the very basic fact that we are all safer when there are more police on the beat.”
Avon and Somerset Police Authority chairman Dr Peter Heffer yesterday wrote to all local MPs to call for “stability” and sufficient funding for policing when Parliament meets to discuss the riots today.
In the letter, Dr Heffer said: “I have the greatest possible confidence that all that can be done to contain violence and disorder in Avon and Somerset is being put in place.
“That is not to say that the risk has disappeared or that all disturbances can be prevented.”
Dr Heffer recognised the need to strengthen the nation’s finances but said he felt proposed changes to policing and costly reform presented “grave risks”.
The police authority has consistently raised concerns about the Government’s police funding formula, which adversely affects the constabulary, which receives £20 million less than it is assessed to need every year.
If you recognise any of the suspects in today’s Post call the police on 0845 4567000, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
The force Facebook page is at http://apps.facebook.com/bristol- disorder/
First court appearances for alleged rioters
On Wednesday, a man and a 17-year-old youth appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court accused of charges relating to the disorder that took place in the early hours of Tuesday.
Michael Coffey, 47, of Whitefield Road, Soundwell, is accused of violent disorder in connection with a clash in which “missiles” were thrown at police officers by members of a large crowd which was behind “blockades” in the Stokes Croft area.
He is accused of throwing two glass bottles at officers.
Dressed in a blue jumper at court, he did not enter a plea to the charge when he appeared before District Judge David Parsons and was remanded in custody until a hearing on August 19.
The Easton teenager, who is a student and keen sportsman at a Bristol college, appeared at a youth court hearing accused of violent disorder and assaulting a police officer on Monday night.
The charges are linked to an incident by the Jamaica Inn pub in St Paul’s in which a police van was attacked with a rock, smashing its windscreen.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was also remanded in custody until August 19.