HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council

The paper does not contain information about Police operational tactics but this can be provided, of course, if it is wanted.

1. Context

1.1 Bradford has often been a focus for national media and commentators’ attention when public disorder has been experienced in any UK cities. This has led to articles being published assessing how far the city and district has changed since 2001 when the Bradford riots occurred. There is now growing national interest from Police and Local Authorities in other areas of the country, who are keen to be involved in “peer learning” about the Bradford approach to safeguarding communities and businesses at times of heightened tension.

1.2 Obviously we cannot, and will not ever, be complacent about our ability to ensure public safety in our city / town centres and to deal robustly with crime across our district. However we do have confidence in the strength, breadth and effectiveness of our partnership working between West Yorkshire Police, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and key organisations across the local public, private and third sectors.

1.3 It is this mature relationship of “virtual”, integrated service strategic planning and delivery that, we believe, has played a significant role in keeping Bradford District safe and calm, not only during the recent public disorder in some English cities but also during the English Defence League (EDL) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protests which took place in our city on 28 August 2010.

2. The Bradford Response During the Recent Public Disorder and Riots Experienced in some English Cities

2.1 As the recent disturbances across the United Kingdom were unfolding, there were comprehensive regular update briefings from the Chief Constable to make sure the Leader of the Council, Leaders of the Opposition Groups, the Council’s Chief Executive and the Chief Superintendents were kept fully informed. The district’s MPs were also briefed, of course. Police and Council colleagues were in regular communication, across all levels, as is standard practice anyway in Bradford District. Police Authority Members, key community contacts such as opinion formers and critical friends were consulted and local soundings were also taken on a frequent basis to provide a two way flow of relevant, timely and accurate information. This included Independent Advisory Groups (IAG), faith organisations and community representatives.

2.2 Throughout the period of this public disorder in several English cities and towns, senior officers from both Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police worked in close partnership reviewing the intelligence and the situation of Bradford District in relation to any potential local issues. The results showed that there were no issues that impacted upon tensions significantly within Bradford District and this was communicated appropriately.

2.3 Community engagement and communication was and is a key aspect of this partnership working to provide reassurance to both local businesses and communities and to share understanding of the position across the district amongst key organisations. Consistent, timely and appropriate key messages were communicated by the Police, councillors, and representatives of community groups and partner organisations throughout the period of public disorder in some other cities and towns. In particular, the Bradford Chamber of Commerce was contacted and assisted in delivering reassurance messages to local businesses after some national chains took the decision to board up their stores, as part of their own policy. Neighbourhood Policing Officers were also briefed with key messages to assure the public of their continued presence. We were clear that a calm Bradford could demonstrate how far we have moved on since 2001 and show the maturity and civic responsibility of our communities. The surge in Bradfordian public satisfaction with and confidence in the Police during the last year, following their approach to managing the protests of August 2010, was very significant in influencing the attitudes and behaviour of local people in the context of the public disorder elsewhere.

2.4 Contingency plans were produced and updated continuingly in order that should the situation change, the partnership would be in a position to respond in an appropriate and proportionate manner without delay. Police also liaised closely with the National Community Tension Team throughout. Planning work is ongoing to identify forthcoming events and festivals, assessing any potential impacts. For instance, prior to and during Ramadan both the Police and the Council work with the Muslim Community through the Council for Mosques in Bradford and Mosques Committees in Keighley to establish the appropriate policing style, taking into account any current issues on both a local and national level.

2.5 The partnership work that was undertaken to deal with the English Defence League protest on the 28 August 2010 in Bradford has been continually improved and strengthened over the last year and this proved invaluable in responding to the national context of public disorder.

3. The Bradford Response to the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism Protests of August 2010

3.1 The “Big One”

3.1.1There was a concern among some of those who live and work in the city that the English Defence League (EDL) and Unite Against Fascism protests that took place in August 2010, could see a repeat of the disorder experienced in 2001. This was fuelled by internet sites/video postings from the EDL promoting their protest as the “Big One” and comparing the events around the 2001 riots with the 2010 protests.

3.1.2It certainly was the “Big One,” but not in the way the EDL had intended. Only 700 of their supporters came to Bradford, much fewer than expected, and those that did found a city united in its opposition to all forms of extremism.

3.1.3It was the “Big One” however for excellent community leadership that gave reassurance and built confidence in the ability of the Police, with support from the Council and other key organisations, to deal effectively with the protests. This community leadership, from the Leader of the Council, the Leaders of the Opposition Groups and ward councillors, supported by the Police Chief Superintendent and Council’s Chief Executive, delivered exceptionally detailed planning and execution of operational delivery, underpinned by the strongest partnership working any of us had been involved in, and effective communications which reached our intended audiences consistently giving both reassurance and tough messages about the consequences of getting involved in any disorder. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of the people involved in this work were born, brought up or have lived for long periods in Bradford. Or that all of the people involved in this work have total commitment to Bradford, city and district.

3.1.4Local organisations across the public, private and third sectors in Bradford all worked extremely hard to plan for, deliver effective communication about, and manage the protests. All of this was undertaken through three main strands, operational and intelligence, communications internal and external, and engagement with the community.

3.2 Partnership planning

3.2.1Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police, partner organisations and the vast majority of Bradfordians, welcomed the Home Secretary giving her consent for the Council to impose an order banning any “public processions” (marches), in Bradford District over the August bank holiday weekend 2010. Even though the Home Secretary gave her consent it did not, of course, prevent static demonstrations taking place and it was explained through communications, that these were still lawful provided they remained peaceful, as there are no legal powers to prevent them.

3.2.2It was also explained to local people that Bradford Council sought the Home Secretary’s permission to impose this order, after receiving a letter from the Chief Constable asking us to do so and after listening to the views of a wide range of local groups and organisations. The Chief Constable’s support for the Council’s pursuit of the order banning marches, was very important. It demonstrated beyond any doubt the Police’s solidarity with and understanding about the views of Bradfordians. Local people showed clearly that they did not want outsiders protesting in their city. 11,000 people signed the petition requesting a ban, organised by “Bradford Together” and promoted by the local newspaper “Telegraph and Argus”, which was handed to the Home Secretary.

3.2.3The Police, the Council and local partner organisations wanted to reassure and support all communities and encourage them not to be provoked into reacting to the demonstrations. From the beginning, it was recognised that the people of Bradford would have a big role to play. Our city faced a not dissimilar situation in 2001 with the Bradford riots being the well known result.

3.2.4Multi agency Gold and Silver Command groups met regularly to plan for the demonstrations. The Leader of the Council, Leaders of the Opposition Groups and the Chief Executive worked with the Chief Constable and Chief Superintendent as an integral part of Gold Command planning, for months before the day of the protests. A multi agency group to support local people, established by the Police and the Council through the Safer Communities Partnership, also met regularly and co-ordinated activity to reassure, inform and engage people, community groups, and city centre businesses. A “Community Engagement and Reassurance” plan was developed by West Yorkshire Police and supported by the Council and wider partnership at a strategic level. This underpinned the work of the multi agency task group which identified key issues and actions to be addressed at every stage. People were tasked with specific duties, areas of specialism and levels of engagement.

3.2.5“Teams” of neighbourhood police officers, councillors, representatives of community and faith groups, neighbourhood wardens, youth workers, local business people and locality based council staff worked together seamlessly.

3.2.6The leader of the Council of Mosques and the Dean of Bradford Cathedral called on all Bradfordians to approach the protests in a spirit of calm and peace. Places of worship were visited and the importance of ensuring young white and Asian-heritage men were not drawn into being provoked by the presence of the EDL in their home town, was emphasised. The Faith Forum in Bradford also brought different faiths together to deliver a united message and a consistent voice.

3.2.7Meetings were also held with key business and community leaders, from a range of cultural and economic backgrounds, to ensure that these individuals could utilise their influence and engage positively with grass-roots community activity.

3.2.8Support was offered to community organisations working with the Council’s youth service and the Police, to provide diversionary activities for young people on the day of the demonstration. The depth of planning to “safeguard” our young people is illustrated by the fact that a risk assessment and diversion plan was developed for every young person regarded as being at risk of getting involved in the protests, based on shared intelligence across all key agencies.

3.2.9The Council and the Police developed a media communications strategy through the partnership District Communications Group well in advance of the protests, which was widely shared and constantly updated. A secure web based forum called “Huddle” was also set up, allowing all communication partners to quickly share documents and key messages. Daily “Information Updates” were also shared via e-mail and on “Huddle” offering bullet points on the latest situation, media coverage and forthcoming events. The Leader of the Council, Leaders of the Opposition Groups and local councillors in their community leadership and ward representative roles, played a pivotal and essential role as key communicators, as did senior police officers. Many media interviews were conducted jointly by the Bradford South Divisional Commander and the Leader of the Council through local television, radio and print media. This also included a series of interviews with Fast FM which was running throughout Ramadan and during the visit of the EDL. This allowed us to update key sections of the community at relevant times. Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube were also significant tools in providing “real time” messages to the public. For instance, the Bradford South Police Divisional Commander filmed four videos which were placed on-line before during and after the event to offer information updates.

3.2.10The Police and the Council, working with partner organisations across the public private and third sector sectors, gave clear consistent messages about the protests: at meetings and briefings for local people, through regular emails that were sent to a wide range of groups and organisations and via social media networks. We wanted to reassure and support all communities. We encouraged local people not to be provoked into reacting to these protests by outsiders, who were using our city centre as a venue and who did not care about the disruption to local people and businesses or any potential disorder they could cause. We made it clear that the Police’s role was to facilitate peaceful protest and we would not tolerate any potential damage to the city or acts of violence. Local people were reminded about the prison sentences that some Bradfordians had received as a result of the riots in 2001 and the devastating impact the riots had on individuals, communities and our city. We acknowledged that local people had a big role to play and asked whatever happened, they should allow the Police and the Council to manage events, which we could do with the co-ordinated resources at our disposal. We promised that local people and businesses could have confidence in the Police and the Council maintaining public safety and could be reassured that the city would be returned to a state of normality very quickly after the static demonstrations. Both the Police and Council also utilised their constant relationship with the organisations like the Bradford Council for Mosques, Mosque Committees and Community Organisations to undertake intensive work with the Muslim Community. This involved open and honest conversations about the events in 2001, trust and confidence, mutual understanding and support.

3.2.11A “Consequences Card” was produced to advise local people about the offences they could be arrested for, if they allowed themselves to be provoked into violence or criminal behaviour by protestors. The card also highlighted the total prison sentences given out as a result of the 2001 riots. It was used extensively to discuss issues about the protests with local young people. It reinforced the message that young people should stay away from the protests, in case they inadvertently become involved, without thinking about the possible long-term consequences for themselves and their futures. This was used to great effect by Youth Services and key personnel when young people were identified as at risk. The card was also later adapted by Youth Services and West Yorkshire Police for use in the Calderdale area when the English Defence League visited for a planned event.

3.2.12The Council and the Police jointly assessed a number of city centre locations on which to site the static protests. Bradford Urban Garden was jointly agreed as the most manageable and appropriate site for the EDL demonstration, in terms of policing, public safety and the minimising of disruption to the people of Bradford. Potential infrastructure and physical hazards to safety, like the City Park construction site, were also jointly identified. Building materials and stones that could potentially be used as weapons were removed. Structures were strengthened, particularly existing fencing around the protest sites. In situ concrete blocks were cast to support the vertical fencing posts and hoardings were bolted to vertical panels.

4. The Day of the Protests

4.1 Officers from Bradford Council and the Police worked closely with representatives of community and faith organisations on the day of the protest, ranging from Gold and Silver Command right down to an operational street level. Information received from the control centre was relayed to colleagues working in the neighbourhoods and visa versa. Having access to the real time CCTV images meant that key intelligence messages could be relayed to community contacts in the city centre who were trained and stationed to help deal with critical situations, should the need arise. The Reassurance and Engagement group used their links with opinion formers and key contacts. This included individual networks such as faith organisations, community groups, Voluntary Youth Outreach, Neighbourhood Wardens, Youth Services and Community Mediators. Their collective responsibilities involved gauging tensions, sharing key messages, identifying issues, defusing incidents and working as a conduit between organisations.

4.2 Our key message was that the people of Bradford had a right to enjoy their Bank Holiday, without having it disrupted by people from outside our district who have no concern about our community, no concern about our local businesses and no interest in our future. Our aim, which was also widely shared, was to make sure that people could go about their daily lives with as little disruption as possible.

4.3 A joint Police and Council communications team was based in Bradford’s city centre police station on the day of the protests, receiving information from and reporting to Gold Command. Twitter was used extensively to provide information and to counteract rumour and misinformation. Partner organisations retweeted messages to ensure maximum impact.

4.4 A Police leaflet giving advice to the general public on the day of the protests was also produced and widely distributed.

4.5 Bradfordians showed their opposition, in a peaceful, positive and dignified way, to people from outside the district using their city as a venue for protests. They did this by staying away from the city centre or by joining in community celebration events and peace vigils or by taking part in a range of neighbourhood activities.

4.6 Bradford Women for Peace created a web of green ribbon in the centre of the city to show that the people of Bradford can share peace through trust and hope in each other. Green ribbons were tied to railings and posts around the city and by the time a vigil for the city was held on the evening before the planned protests, the action of these women had come to symbolise the hopes of Bradfordians of all backgrounds.

4.7 Bradford Cathedral and faith groups held vigils. Mosques, churches, community organisations, the Police and the Council provided neighbourhood activities for young people. “Bradford Together” held a family-friendly community celebration near the city centre.

4.8 As soon as the protests were over and as the protestors were being escorted onto the coaches that had brought them from across the country into our city, the clean up operation began. The Council’s street cleansing teams worked throughout the night to ensure the city centre was pristine again.

5. The Day After the Protests

5.1 On the day immediately after the protests, people of all faiths joined the congregation from the Cathedral for prayers to “reclaim” the urban garden space, where the EDL protest had taken place, for the city. This formed the basis of a You Tube video from the Bradford South Police Divisional Commander.

5.2 Councillors who had been directly involved in the planning for and managing of the protests were approached by local people, who wanted to tell them how proud they were to be a Bradfordian that day. There was a very tangible sense of belonging, togetherness and pride in what Bradfordians, of all faith, cultural and economic backgrounds, had achieved in the immediate aftermath of the protests and this feeling has stood the test of time.

5.3 The protests in Bradford in August 2010 were acknowledged as a very public test of change since 2001. The coordinated response, from the Police, Council, private/public sector partners and voluntary, community and faith groups, meant that all agencies and communities cooperated to minimise the opportunity for a major incident to occur. The fact that young men in particular, from all communities, chose to keep away was also testament to a mature local approach to dealing with issues and challenges.

6. Partnership Policy Development and Service Delivery

6.1 The way Bradford responded during the public disorder in some English cities in August 2011 and in response to the EDL protest in August 2010 was, in a large part, the result of partnership policy development and service delivery over a sustained period of time.

6.2 Citizenship and community relations

6.2.1The Council and the Police, working with a range of public, private and third sector partners, have: promoted citizenship, encouraged local people’s involvement in decision making within neighbourhoods and built on pride-of-place across Bradford District, as an essential part of developing good relations across and within communities.

6.2.2In Bradford there is a broad consensus that building good community relations is about encouraging positive relationships between different groups of people, including communities of ethnic origin, faith, culture, age, gender and disability. There is also general agreement that deprivation (structural) and discrimination (attitudinal) are key barriers to inclusion, with an individual’s economic background being at least as important as their cultural background in defining their life chances.

6.3 Communications

6.3.1Over recent years, communication has emphasised what different communities have in common, (cohesion) rather than focussing on their differences (multiculturalism). People from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds do, in general, share the same key priorities, concerns, and core values. This approach celebrates the contributions that individuals from a range of cultural and economic backgrounds make to an area. It concentrates on fostering belonging and a sense of a shared future amongst local people.

6.3.2A strategic approach to co-ordinating communications and marketing activity has been adopted across partner agencies. Key messages on difficult issues which can affect community relations, for example: school admissions, neighbourhood cleanliness, asylum seekers and migrant workers, have been agreed and used consistently. Speedy communications have been delivered to alleviate concerns where community relations could be threatened, for example, perceived unfairness in the distribution of resources.

6.4 Educational attainment

6.4.1Educational attainment, particularly at primary level, has improved in the last 10 years, although there is still much to achieve now the Council’s contract with Serco (Education Bradford) has ended and the Council has taken back responsibility for educating the district’s children.

6.4.2An important example of the partnership approach and commitment of Bradford based companies to raising educational aspiration and attainment is evidenced by Morrisons, who have recently announced that recruits to their new national training programme, as well as gaining hands-on experience, will undertake a specially developed three-year retail degree course devised by Bradford University to help prepare them for senior management roles. Also by the successful Bradford District partnership “someone for your future” marketing campaign, developed by and aimed at young people.

6.5 Neighbourhood Policing

6.5.1Neighbourhood policing is strong across Bradford District. There are positive links between the Police and a range of community and faith groups and there is co-ordinated working between the Police, Council and other key organisations at neighbourhood level. Since 2001 Overall Crime in the Bradford District has dropped by 32%.

6.5.2The long established and close liaison between West Yorkshire Police and Council teams at all levels, from the Command Teams to officers working from the streets of Bradford, has strengthened understanding, trust and information sharing. This integrated working is so well established that many services are delivered by “virtual” shared teams, operating effectively and seamlessly as part of everyday work activity.

6.6 Civil contingencies planning

6.6.1The liaison between the Emergency Management Team and a variety of faith and community groups was strengthened significantly in the years after the 2001 riots. This good working relationship has established a shared understanding of both issues and solutions.

6.6.2Bradford District Community Tension Monitoring Group, which was established following the 2001 riots, gives the Police, the Council and partner organisations a timely and full understanding of where reports of tension across the district are occurring so that action can be taken to address any situations at an early stage. This has since been developed into the Reassurance and Engagement Group which meets quarterly, but has the ability to come together immediately at times of heightened tension to manage and co-ordinate the response of organisations.

6.7 Regeneration

6.7.1The regeneration of Bradford city centre, as the key driver for economic growth across the district, has gathered significant momentum over the past year.

6.7.2Developments like Southgate, where Bradford Council provided a commercial loan of just over £6 million to a company with a development at an advanced stage of construction and a number of pre-lets agreed when the banks were inert in providing capital, has recently been completed. The secured loan has been repaid with interest and the £50 million mixed use development is now the head-quarters for Provident Financial and also has a 200-bed Jury’s hotel, securing and creating a thousand jobs in the city centre.

6.7.3Construction of City Park, Bradford’s landmark £24 million regeneration project in the heart of the city, is well underway and will be completed in early 2012. The six-acre park will contain the largest city centre water feature in the UK. City Park will create a major events space and is already attracting direct investment and international interest in the city.

6.7.4There is a further £1 billion pipeline of planned possible investment in the city centre, including New Victoria Place, a central business district and Westfield’s Broadway shopping centre.

6.7.5The confidence large national companies now have in Bradford is illustrated by their enthusiasm to invest in the district. Provident Financial is opening their new Vanquis Bank call centre in Bradford and the choice of Bradford by M&S for their biggest European distribution centre, a 1.1m sq ft site at ProLogis Park, represents a clear endorsement of the business benefits that Bradford District offers.

6.7.6We have a long and proud history of industrial and commercial innovation in Bradford. Today’s local businesses, from small enterprises to large nationally-known companies, are maintaining that tradition. Bradford’s rate of self-employment continues to be well above the Yorkshire and Humber average, evidencing a strong entrepreneurial culture.

6.7.7Bradford is now also the world’s first city of film. The UNESCO status reflects Bradford’s key role historically and in contemporary film. Also the district’s stunning built heritage and breathtaking scenery which has been the backdrop to many classic films.

7. Bradford’s Response to the 10th Anniversary of the Riots of 2001 in Our City

7.1 The riots of July 2001 had a significant and longstanding impact on Bradford, the effects of which were felt for many years. For example, as a result of the riots 191 people were given prison sentences totalling more than 510 years, with the average sentence being four years imprisonment. Also dozens of police officers and local people were injured as a result of the rioting.

7.2 The Bradford riots were, of course, part of a wave of similar unrest that swept several northern industrial towns, including Oldham, and Burnley. These riots of 2001 have generally been analysed in terms of segregation, “parallel lives”, the negative impacts of multiculturalism, and even terrorism, while previous urban disorder had generally been set within a media narrative of poverty and deprivation.

7.3 City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and West Yorkshire Police, along with local partner agencies in the public, private and third sectors were very aware that any negative national media coverage, including social media, about the “10th anniversary of the Bradford riots” had the potential to damage the reputation of the city and district. Also it had the potential to damage relations between communities and undermine the trust in the Police and the Council to ensure public safety.

7.4 Therefore effective communications planning and clear messaging was articulated in a partnership communications strategy that was widely shared by local organisations and groups across the district. The aim of partnership communications planning and delivery was to demonstrate that Bradford had moved on and was looking forward, not back. A number of joint media interviews between the Bradford Divisional Commander and Leader of the Council were set up in advance of the anniversary which emphasised some of the key points made in the Communication Strategy. This included the reduction in crime levels over the past 10 years, the introduction of Neighbourhood Policing and how it reflected the make up of the community. The current maturity and vibrancy of the city and district was and continues to be promoted through scheduled summer events, as well as by building on the positive media coverage gained through the way Bradford dealt with the protests in August 2010.

7.5 Contrary to some untrue and damaging national perceptions, usually voiced by national commentators who have not visited Bradford for years, Bradford is not deeply divided along racial or cultural lines and the communities of Bradford do not live “parallel lives.” Obviously there are areas in Bradford where similar communities live together with a support infrastructure that includes local facilities such as specialist shops and places of worship, but people from different cultural and economic backgrounds meet each other at work, at study and at leisure.

7.6 A recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation study backs the view that the “parallel lives” assertion needs to be reassessed: (“Muslims and Community Cohesion in Bradford”—2010).

Its key findings were:

“Muslims in the study, in common with participants of other faiths or no faith, tended to meet people of the same ethnic and religious background at home and religious places, and to meet people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds outside the home.”

“Established Muslim male respondents met people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in more places than any other group of people in the sample.”

“Attitudes between the established populations (across all faiths and no faith) in particular were very similar on a range of local issues, as well as on national and international issues.”

“All participants had good things to say about Britain, and established residents in particular expressed a strong sense of local pride in Bradford.”

7.7 Local people from all communities and from different cultural and economic backgrounds in Bradford District do share common values about the importance of strong families, clean neighbourhoods and safe city and town centers. Bradfordians know that all families and communities can only benefit from a prosperous and peaceful District.

7.8 Good community relations, nationally and locally can only be achieved by effective community leadership that promotes citizenship, belonging, and pride of place—a common understanding of a shared future where all residents from every economic and cultural background are personal stakeholders.

7.9 Bradford District is home to many different places, people and communities. We face many challenges, but we know we can face and resolve any challenge together.

August 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011