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Police officer looks back 10 years to the Nottingham riots

A decade ago this summer Nottingham was in the grip of rioters intent on causing arson, carnage and mass damage as they ripped through the city centre.

For one young officer who was on duty that night this was an experience she says she will never forget, as she bravely policed the front line during waves of arson attacks, shop looting and outbursts of criminal damage.

The riots that rocked Nottingham city centre in 2011 were some of the most challenging times for local police officers in recent history – with a police station being petrol bombed and officers coming under attack as they strived to maintain the peace.

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More than 100 people were arrested following the night of riots, which saw police stations attacked and mobs damaging cars, pubs and shops in areas including Basford, Mapperley and Radford.

Nottingham was one of a number of cities across the country that were hit by copycat riots and disorder after the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police in Tottenham, London, in August 2011.

Then a 28-year-old detective constable on the burglary team, Inspector Charlotte Allardice was one of the many officers thrust into the midst of the chaos, trying to restore order and keep people safe.

She volunteered to work on a public order van in the city centre during the night and was using her detective skills to conduct investigations into the disorder by day. She worked lengthy back-to-back- shifts and on one occasion, completed 23-hours in a day.

She recalled investigating an incident where a petrol bomb had been thrown at Canning Circus police station. She also experienced missiles being thrown at her van and debris being placed in the road to block police from driving through.

She said: “It was without a doubt exhausting, and at times it felt like utter chaos. But there was a great sense of camaraderie, though, between the police and our emergency service colleagues and we felt united in our aim to bringing the disorder under control. And we always did. but we felt dedicated to the cause of keeping our public safe and proving that people wouldn’t get away with violent behaviour.”

Known for her tenacity and attention to detail, one of her investigations during the riots was for a group of suspects who had been arrested after staging a standoff on the roof of the Nottingham Girls’ High School.

Her team gained enough evidence to charge ten people with violent disorder and she stayed with the enquiry for around six months to prepare for trial which resulted in all the suspects pleading guilty and the adults receiving custodial sentences.

Dealing with the riots is not something she would want to relive – but the experience gained has proved invaluable.

Now, the 38-year-old mother-of-two has just begun a new role as the Inspector heading up the Newark and Sherwood neighbourhood team.

Having served with the force for 16 years, she has a wealth of policing experience and is no stranger to challenging and difficult circumstances having been faced with some of Nottingham’s most serious incidents during her last role as a response Inspector in the city centre.

She is pledging to utilise this together with her passion for the countryside and interest in rural crimes such as catalytic converter thefts and wildlife crime.

Inspector Allardice started her career on response in Broxtowe in 2005. After five years, she moved on to the Oxclose Lane burglary team where she focused her efforts of pursuing and prosecuting prolific burglars. She then went on to the Radford Road criminal investigation department as a detective where she undertook a variety of investigations into serious crimes.

In 2013, she became a response sergeant in The Meadows before moving to the city centre and county south areas before landing her previous role as response Inspector for the city in 2019.

Having spent a lot of time on the night time economy in Nottingham, Inspector Allardice has been faced with some of the violent incidents that happen after dark and often fuelled by alcohol, including some serious sexual offences.

“There have been some really challenging times and having two young children of my own has been difficult when I’ve been dealing with some really demanding jobs,” Inspector Allardice added.

“But it has only made me more committed and more determined to tackle violent crime and protect the community from the impact of such offences.

“As police officers we often meet people who are experiencing the worst days of their lives, that is the nature of the work we do.  My aim has always been that we do everything we can to make that day a bit better, and to support the public through those challenging times. By moving into neighbourhood policing I am excited by the prospect of taking the next steps in problem solving to provide long term solutions, as well as being proactive to prevent some of those ‘worst days’ from happening in the first place.”

Inspector Allardice, who grew up in countryside in North Yorkshire, also recognises that wellbeing is important amongst her staff and admits that support from colleagues has helped her during some difficult incidents.

She said: “In policing generally we’re a lot better at looking after people than we used to be.  I realise how important it is to look after my teams and get a lot of satisfaction from investing time in this. It’s a way that I can facilitate my officers to do a good job and so it’s important to me that they’re happy and healthy.”

With the summer months ahead and the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Newark and Sherwood teams are planning and anticipating a new wave of night time economy policing and are looking at villages and rural settings where some larger events are expected to happen as well as in town centres.

She is also pledging to utilise her experience in investigations together with her passion for the countryside to focus on rural crimes such as catalytic converter thefts and wildlife crime.

Inspector Allardice added: “I’ve got a great task-force here in Newark and Sherwood where the area has really been benefitting from the implementation of several teams and resources.

“Response, neighbourhood and our Operation Reacher crew have been working really effectively alongside departments within the force such as intelligence and roads policing.

“So for me, it’s about continuing with this momentum and utilising the proactive teams to uncover what crimes are happening in the area. I am looking forward to getting to know the area and the communities within it. It’s important that our residents feel like they can talk to us and tell us what they’re concerned about. We can then use this to form intelligence pictures alongside our covert and overt methods, we can stop criminals in their tracks. We just want to continue to make the area as safe as it can be.”

Inspector Allardice replaces Heather Sutton, who has been the neighbourhood inspector for the area for most of the last three years. She has now been promoted to Chief Inspector for the Newark, Sherwood and Bassetlaw areas and the Rushcliffe, Broxtowe and Gedling areas.

Chief Inspector Sutton said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as neighbourhood inspector for Newark and Sherwood and have no doubt that Inspector Allardice will continue where I’ve left off and will do a fantastic job at policing the area.

“I will still be involved in a lot of her projects and I am equally committed to driving down crime and making the areas as safe as we possibly can.

“But we can’t do it without the help of people who live here so we ask them to keep talking to us, keep taking part in our What Matters surveys and talking to us on our Facebook pages as well as engaging with our officers on the streets. We want to hear about the crimes that might be happening on their doorsteps so we can then take a proactive approach against them.”

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