Ten years since London riots: how Redbridge was hit

Riot police defend Ilford Police Station in August 2011

Riot police defend Ilford Police Station in August 2011 - Credit: Zjan Shirinian

On August 4 2011, Mark Duggan was shot and killed in Haringey, sparking one of the biggest civil disturbances in modern British history. 

The London riots lasted for five nights, with arson and looting spreading across London and to other major cities. 

Ten years on, we look back at how Redbridge was affected. 

At around 2am on Monday August 8, looters struck T-Mobile and Virgin Media in High Road, Ilford, and JD Sports in Newbury Park, causing widespread damage and smashing windows. 

At 11am, all police stations across the borough except Ilford were closed to the public and the force enhanced their presence on the High Road that afternoon, with shops closing early on police advice. 

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A large group began gathering in Ilford Lane and High Road in the following hours and at 6pm skirmishes broke out between police and a handful of young people outside Lynton House, High Road. Bottles and rocks were thrown at officers, who charged at the youths. 

At 10pm, five looters hit the Co-operative store in High Street, Barkingside, while raiders stole gold and silver jewellery from Richard Miles Jewellers in George Lane, South Woodford. 

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Around £1,000 in cash was stolen from a Tesco Express in Manford Way, Hainault. 

In one terrifying incident, a 42-year-old shopkeeper had to flee his shop on Ilford Lane through a fire escape and hide in his upstairs flat as around 50 rioters rampaged through his shop. 

Father-of-two Sivakulasingam Nagulan told the Recorder at the time: “I was very scared. There were people in masks and hoods. I realised suddenly that I was not safe.  

“I locked the fire door behind me and ran upstairs to the flat. The noise of the bottles smashing was horrible. I was crying.” 

Fire crews were called to at least four car fires across the borough, while looters struck again at Vodafone and Orange in High Road, Ilford. 

At 3am, the Woodford Carpet Shop, High Road, Woodford Green was gutted by a blaze suspected to have been caused by arsonists. 

On Tuesday 9, businesses closed early and secured their buildings against further trouble, while 100 members of the Sikh community gathered to protect the Singh Sabha Gurdwara Karamsar, Ilford, and the Singh Sabha London, in Seven Kings. The night passed without trouble. 

In the aftermath of the riots, police trawled through 3,000 hours of CCTV to identify suspects. 

In Redbridge, 78 suspects, mostly young people, were charged with 112 separate offences. The youngest charged was 12-year-old and the oldest 47. 

In the weeks after, 30 of the borough’s teenagers marched to Ilford Town Centre to take part in a display of "peace and unity". 

Today, Ilford South MP Sam Tarry said: “A decade on from the London riots and the distressing scenes across the capital, I am reminded of the unacceptable violence and criminal damage I saw against people, properties and businesses that day.  

“However, the 10-year anniversary is also an opportunity to remember the incredible and inspiring show of human spirit, both at the time to support one another, as well as in the aftermath, when people from every corner of our community came together to help clean-up our town. 

“But we also cannot ignore some of the underlying causes of the riots, including the death of Mark Duggan, whose family had to wait almost a decade for answers, as well as the ongoing lack of economic and racial justice which continues to cause deep tension among so many in our community.” 

A government spokesperson said: “The events of August 2011 shocked the country, and the police and courts took commendably swift action to bring perpetrators to justice. 

“We’re supporting families and building stronger communities by investing £500 million in safe spaces through our Youth Investment Fund and championing family hubs to offer earlier help and support to families in need. 

“We’re also introducing new measures to protect vulnerable young people at risk of being exploited – including £45 million in specialist support in schools to re-engage them in their education.” 

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