History of the Metropolitan Police
Broadwater Farm Riot 1985
On 5 October 1985 four police officers went to search the home of Mrs Cynthia Jarrett, near the Broadwater Farm housing estate in Tottenham. Mrs Jarrett's son Floyd was in custody at Tottenham police station having given a false name when found in a car with an inaccurately made out tax disc. The visit caused panic among some of the occupants, and Mrs Jarrett, who had a weak heart, collapsed and died despite the officers' best efforts to revive her.
The next day a small crowd started a demonstration outside the police station and broke its windows. At 3.15pm two Home Beat officers were attacked and seriously injured by a brick-throwing crowd, one of them having his spleen ruptured by a paving stone thrown onto his back when he had fallen. Following a protest meeting where responsible community leaders proposing a motion of complaint were shouted down, a police inspector driving past the estate was attacked and had his car window smashed. A police van answering a 999 call was surrounded, attacked and severely damaged by a mob with machetes, bars and knives.
By the time the first riot control police arrived the mob had put up barriers and prepared petrol bombs. Cordons of police officers in riot gear with long shields were forced to withstand a prolonged attack from rioters, including gunfire, until the estate was restored to order some hours later.
At 9.30pm a fire was seen in a newsagent's on the first floor 'deck' of Tangmere block and attempts to support the firemen trying to put it out led to the murder of PC Blakelock, who was surrounded by masked and balaclava'd rioters armed with sticks, knives and a machete who proceeded to hack him to death. The news of his death spread through the mob and as rain started to fall the violence slowly died out.
The incident resulted in a review of senior officers' training in public order tactics, the introduction of armoured Land Rovers and the preferred tactic of 'early resolution' by faster moving police units with short as well as long shields.