A failed meeting

In reaction to the evenings fires, a meeting with community representatives was held at the Moss Side Police Station on Platt Lane at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, 8 July.  Gabrielle Cox who was Vice-Chair of the Greater Manchester Police Authority described how

A large number of people, including a substantial proportion of young people, attended the meeting.   The situation was then totally mishandled in a singularly inept fashion by the police, in that this large and somewhat restive meeting was kept waiting an inordinately long time, with the result that nearly everybody walked out in anger, feeling that although they had come with goodwill at the invitation of the police they were being treated with contempt – a perfect object lesson of the insensitivity of the police in Moss Side of which people constantly complain.    Whilst this is a small incident, it illustrates a general point about police relations with the Moss Side community and was certainly a highly unhelpful incident to occur at such a tense time.

The situation was partially redeemed when the Chief Constable, at the instigation of some of those of us present, came down to the meeting, though by this time it was a different meeting since it had only been possible to persuade some of the original participants to return, and other people had come in.   Strenuous efforts were then made to deal with identified sources of tension, particularly the status of those who had been arrested the previous night.   In this Mr. Anderton and his officers made every attempt to be helpful.   During this meeting a number of people asked the Chief Constable what kind of policing the area would have that evening, and he indicated that it would be normal.   The consensus view was that all efforts should be directed at lowering the temperature and keeping things as normal as possible, and that large numbers of policemen on the streets would be more likely to provoke than to prevent trouble.   At no point did the Chief Constable or any other police officer argue with this point of view or indicate that the police would prefer a different strategy.   When asked if the people of Moss Side could be assured of adequate protection, the Chief Constable made it clear that should trouble arise he would take the necessary steps to deal with it.

Many of the youth club members attending the meeting were concerned about the seven young black men arrested on the previous night.

While the meeting at the Moss Side Police Station was taking place the Shopping Precinct was closed early just after 3:00 pm. The precinct had long been a focus for confrontations between large numbers of police and youth, such as in March 1981.

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