Police Monitoring

The way in which strikes and peaceful demonstrations were policed during the 1970s and 1980s and the many recorded incidences of brutality towards black people, trade unionists, homosexuals and others was a key concern for left-wing activists. When the Left took control of Manchester in 1984, monitoring the police was one of the four new policy initiatives, involving a creation of a sub-committee and unit of council officers. However, the Police Authority was the responsibility of Greater Manchester Council (GMC) not the City Council so the Police Monitoring Unit had difficulty finding its role and having any effect. This chapter touches on clashes with the Chief Constable, James Anderton, and policing of protests during this period.
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The Fourth New Policy Initiative
Chief Constable James Anderton
Why Controlling the Police was an Issue for the Left
The Police Monitoring Sub-Committee and Opposition to Community Liaison Panels
The Police Research and Information Unit
The Battle of Brittan
A Legal Committee and Unit or Not?
Change to Community Safety Focus
On Reflection
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Editor’s Comments

This chapter felt unfinished/unpolished and didn’t have a strong narrative, by which I mean it is not clear what point or points it was making. It is about the left-wing councillors trying to control the police when they actually had no power to do so. I have edited this more than other chapters so far on the basis of advice in notes from Steve Platt and also that I felt it didn’t flow. I split it into sections and added the sub-headings. I have removed the 2 Appendices.

Key points from the chapter and extra research


[1] Editor’s note: Kath wrote here that“The manifesto made no mention of the committee that actually had responsibility for the police in Manchester, namely the Greater Manchester Police Authority (GMPA). This was one of the four committees of the Greater Manchester County Council (GMC), together with the Passenger Transport Authority, the Fire Authority and the Waste Disposal Authority.” but to my mind that is covered by the words “elected GMC police committee”

[2] who didn’t stay on the sub-committee very long

[3] Later renamed the Police Monitoring Unit

[4] An expanded account of the nature of the intimidation was given by Tony Lloyd MP in Parliament on 27 March 1986 as reported in Hansard in relation to the Police Complaints Authority http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/ commons/1986/mar/27/police-complaints-authority viewed 3 Jan 2016

[5] In January 1986, the sub-committee considered a new code of practice for youth and community workers in their relations with police and discussed a report on the use of plastic bullets by the police. February 1986 saw the first publication of ‘Police Watch’ and a report entitled ‘Policing the City’, which was very critical of the Chief Constable. Criteria were established for meetings between the community and the police. At the April 1986 Sub-committee meeting, opposition was expressed to the new Public Order Bill as an attack on civil liberties.

[6] The Stalker case is too complex a story to include in this account and has been written about by others, including his own account and “Stalker: the search for the truth” by Peter Taylor. Faber & Faber. 1987.

[7] After the Police Monitoring Sub-committee’s abolition, the Council did publish a number of significant reports that had been produced by members of the unit. These included a report on women and violence by Surinda Baines, supported by Bradford University (October 1987); a report on the Steven Shaw case (November 1987); and a report on policing in Moss Side and Hulme (January 1988).

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Further Reading

  1. 1986. Politics: Manchester’s Chief Constable James Anderton http://www.gayinthe80s.com/2014/05/1986-politics-manchesters-chief-constable-james-anderton/
  2. Margaret Thatcher saved career of police chief who made Aids remarks http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8991935/Margaret-Thatcher-saved-career-of-police-chief-who-made-Aids-remarks.html
  3. Politicians’ shock at government handling of James Anderton Aids storm after M.E.N. reveals secret documents http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/politicians-shock-at-government-handling-of-james-678915
  4. M.E.N. exclusive: Read all the secret documents relating to the Sir James Anderton affair
  5. James Anderton documents including letter from Graham Stringer 16 December 1986 to the Home Secretary complaining about Anderton https://www.scribd.com/doc/77033954/James-Anderton-documents-part-1
  6. Manchester Evening News ‘1981 Moss Side Riots: Pictures, headlines and background that tell the story of some of Manchester’s most violent days’ http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/moss-side-riots-anniversary-manchester-9588570
  7. City of Manchester: report Civil Disturbances Employment in Moss Side: Hytner report Moss Side enquiry panel: notes from a meeting 15 July 1981 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/record?catid=-630210&catln=7
  8. History of the Moss Side Riots in Manchester https://mossside81.wordpress.com/
  9. Hansard Police Complaints Committee http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1986/mar/27/police-complaints-authority

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