U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

From Rumor to Riot: The 2005 Lozells Disorders (From Rioting in the UK and France: A Comparative Analysis, P 94-104, 2009, David Waddington, Fabien Jobard, and Mike King, eds. - See NCJ-229457)

NCJ Number
Mike King
Date Published
11 pages
This chapter reviews the background and roots of the 2005 riot in the Lozells district of Birmingham, England, which was unusual because it involved rival factions of Asians and African-Caribbeans and, in turn, the police.
The chapter provides an overview of the evolution of the Lozells disorders, which were superficially caused by a rumor about the rape of an African girl by South Asians, as well as the subsequent police response. The chapter then discusses the wider contextual factors and arguments regarding the underlying causes of the riots, as well as the current climate and associated factors. The author then compared these events with the Handsworth/Lozells riots of the 1980s. Although rumor about the rape was the apparent immediate cause of the escalation of conflict, a number of deeper underlying factors were taken into account. These factors pertained to economic and political marginalization and a history of drug-related gang violence in the Lozells area. It was notable that in 2001, the unemployment rate in Lozells and neighboring communities was 5 times higher than the national rate. Supporting the view of rival gang involvement in the riot, Appleton (2005) depicts the disorders as resembling "gang fights" rather than "communities in revolt." Regarding criticisms of the police response, there were three main themes. First, the police were unwise to select a church frequented by African-Caribbean community residents as the site for a community meeting, particularly since it was near a local mosque that was holding Ramadan celebrations at the time of the meeting. A second criticism of police was that they failed to respond immediately to the alleged rape; and thirdly, the police arrived late on the scene of the Lozells Road rioting. In comparing the riots in the Handsworth/Lozells area in 2005 with those of the 1980s, the underlying wider contextual factors were not only still present but had perhaps intensified.