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Road to Balcombe Street: The IRA Reign of Terror in London, Part I

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Dated: 2008 Pages: 1-165
Steven P. Moysey Ph.D.
Date Published
0 pages
In this part one of a two-part issue, a comprehensive account of the events leading up to the hostage-taking incident at Balcombe Street in London in 1975 is presented, as well as the successful and peaceful efforts to secure the release of the victims and surrender of the perpetrators, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), Active Service Unit (ASU).
In December 1975, a hostage negotiation episode occurred in London. The hostage takers were four members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) that made up an Active Service Unit (ASU), sent to Britain by the IRA’s General Headquarters. They were sent to wreck havoc on the capital. Their mission was to force the government of Harold Wilson to pull out the British troops from Northern Ireland and allow the six counties of Ulster, controlled by the British, to integrate with the Republic of Ireland. Their mission was part of a struggle that dated back over 200 years. This issue (part one) will examine the road prior to the hostage situation which would last 6 days. Specifically, the background to the 1974-1975 London ASU campaign, the bombing, shooting and kidnapping offenses carried out by the ASU, and the events leading up to the eventual capture by the London Metropolitan Police (the Met), and Britain’s attempt to ensure a cease fire/truce with the IRA. It will examine the political context of the deliberate campaign of violent terrorist activities perpetrated by the ACU. Part two of this issue will look at how both sides handled the 6-day hostage taking situation, and then examine the pros and cons of the strategy and tactics used by the London Metropolitan Police (the Met), and how the lessons from this event apply to other such situations, or if they can be transferred to similar cases. It provides a framework of how law enforcement and hostage negotiators handle such volatile situations. Figures