Nottinghamshire Police Authority will not pay out for damage incurred during summer riots, because of a technicality in the legislation.According to the 1886 Riot Damages Act, a ‘riot’ is defined as 12 or more people, present together, using violence in a common purpose. The authority said if only 10 people damaged a shop, it would not count as rioting and compensation claims would be refused. In cases where there is insufficient evidence of how many individuals were involved, it seems claimants are also being refused compensation. Graham Trudgill, from the British Insurance Brokers Association, said: “Although 125 people were arrested it seems that the police are trying to say that less than 12 people were involved in each of the incidents. “If they can say that, it means they don’t have to pay under the act. It means the victims, that don’t have insurance, will not get any help whatsoever.” Interestingly, vehicle damage is not covered under the Riot Damages Act – but considering this piece of legislation was passed in 1886, when motor vehicles were hard to come by, this is not surprising. In today’s society however, when there are over 27 Million privately owned vehicles in the UK, the risk of damage has increased astronomically. It seems a revision to the Riot Damages Act is long overdue.
However, Mr Trudgill added victims without insurance could challenge the authority’s decision with the help of local MPs and lawyers.Glynn Gilfoyle, vice-chair of the Authority, said members had carefully looked at each claim and assessed the validity against the criteria within the act. He said: “While I’m sure that people will be disappointed, we cannot pay out taxpayers’ money without the appropriate evidence that this is justified. While undoubtedly criminal damage has taken place, we have no evidence that this is the result of a riot and the criteria, as stipulated within the act, has not been met.” During the trouble on 9 August a group of up to 40 people attacked Canning Circus police station in Nottingham city centre with petrol bombs. About 30 people attacked houses and cars in the St Ann’s area the day before, as estimated by CCTV analysis. Mr Gilfoyle said: “There were lots of people milling about. What we have to look at is individual cases and the ones that have been presented to the authority do not meet a claim under the act.” If you have been refused compensation under the Riot Damages Act, and feel it was an unfair decision, make sure you seek legal advice and the help of local MPs.