Nottingham cops declare war on kids

Police in Nottingham, England declared war on youth on Saturday night: anyone between 13-24 getting off a bus into town was sent through a metal-detector, and the streets were swarmed with drug-dogs that were set on young people.

Something like 90% of urban England Over 1,000 English cities and towns have a curfew for young people, giving police (and fake "citizen cops") the power to send kids home after dark for any reason, if, in their judgement, the kids are apt to be disturbing "real" people. Many stores and restaurants have signs on the door that say "no more than two kids at one time" (imagine if it said "No more than two Jews" or "No more than two blacks"). And there's a kind of para-law called the Anti-Social Behaviour Order that gives courts the power to invent laws for people (mostly kids) who face complaints about their behaviour (the accused aren't allowed to rebut the evidence against them).

You have to wonder what kind of values about citizenship, fairness, privacy, and the social contract are being imparted to young people by these measures.

The major operation involved 200 officers as part of a Home Office project targeting 13 to 24-year-olds.

Officers and a specially-trained dog met young people coming off a number of bus routes.

Metal detectors were used in an effort to find concealed weapons while drug testing was also carried out.

A search centre was set up where a full body scanner checked suspects.

Police in Nottingham city centre knife purge (Thanks, Dougall!)


  1. Hello, U.K.? Yes, Please pay attention.

    You are all now living in The Village.

    You are all numbers. None of you are free men or women. You move about at the whim of your unseen masters. Your actions are monitored 24 hours a day. For YOUR protection.

    Number 6 tried to warn you, but, well, you decided to ignore him.

    ROVER is here for YOUR Protection.

    Keep Calm and Carry On.

    Be Seeing You…

  2. Wow those must be some rowdy kids, going crazy with their hip hop and pranks that no one can handle it. And worse, they don’t pay! RIght?

  3. Those kids could be carrying Mentos, or worse, Sunny D (which has metamorphic properties)!

    Any word on how much terrordrug-ungoods were found? Because the BBC hasn’t said.

  4. It seems sad that we now live in a society that is scared of its own children.

    Maybe some young people should organise themselves into their own police force and start stopping and searching politicians and bankers , because they appear to be the ones causing criminal harm to our childrens futures.

  5. Small towns in southern Wisconsin have had similar curfew since the mid 90s. Business have had similar signs since I can remember. We still have a higher crime rate per capita than most places. Kids are kids, send them home and tell their parents. If the parents don’t follow through then it’s their own fault and should suffer the consequences. No need to treat every kid like a criminal. Treat the parents like bad parents.

  6. Treating teenagers like criminals for being teenagers is the best way to turn them into well-adjusted adults!

  7. Doesn’t that sound just eerily like writs of assistance, also known as general warrants, the specific human rights violations whose abuse prompted Americans to draft the 4th amendment?

    The only change seems to be that instead of being authorized to search and detain anyone they desired, they’re allowed to search and punish anyone they desire under the age qualifying as an adult.

    1. I’m fairly certain 23 year olds qualify as adults, even though they’d be directly affected by this policy.

  8. Well, after growing up in Chicago for all of my youth, it’s no different here.

    There’s a 10pm curfew for any child under 18 during the week and a 12pm curfew on the weekends, marked by a siren that sounds in our neighborhood.

    No real big deal, to be honest.

  9. You guys are not quite getting it. This is not about children. Its about PEOPLE. You are no longer a child at 24 years old. This is just practice (initially targeted at minorities) for getting everyone used to the idea of searches, checkpoints, papers. They have already somehow sold the British on the idea of searches, now the checkpoints are appearing…

  10. 90% of Urban England? What is the source for that figure? I don’t believe it Cory. The reason that most shops have a sign of no more than two school kids at a time is that it gives the shop/store owner a chance to keep an eye on the little dears, since the little urchins are always shoplifting, stealing. A generation of children who think stealing is fine.

      1. Like I say, live in Nottingham for a while. In fact, try being a Sikh shop owner in Nottingham for a while.

    1. I misremembered — it comes from my wife’s research for one of the UK’s public service broadcasters. She’s just corrected me — it’s over 1,000 English cities and towns (including London).

    2. Oh dear God – stereotypes are always accurate and fully descriptive on any set group of people, aren’t they?

      Did you know while you were typing this, kids may have been playing on your lawn. You have been warned.

  11. while i agree that nottinghams reactionary response is scary messed up, i must also admit that teenagers frighten me more than most any stereotypical people group. no excuse, a confession. now how to execute youthful tests of boundary constructively?

  12. Reminds me a of that bit in “Bowling for Columbine” where Michael Moore talks about all the hysteria that came after the shootings in Littleton. Kids getting pat-downs and wanded by metal detectors. Kids sent home for making “pew pew” sounds while hold “gun-shaped” chicken fingers.

    “Knife crime?” Oh please. Yes, there have been some awful incidents, but save for the Daily Mail and other rags screaming for SOMEONE to do SOMETHING have the actual stats on youth crime really gone that wild? It’s fear-mongering and panic about a whole generation who, guess what, will be running the country one day.

    Do you really want to teach young people that the best way to deal with isolated incidents is to live in terror?

  13. I live in Nottingham and was even in town on Saturday night, although I didn’t see anything of the searches. The local news said that they’d charged some gentleman with being excessively drunk – didn’t say anything about finding knives or drugs.

    Nottingham has been reported as having quite a bad knife problem and has one of the highest poverty levels in the UK. Nottinghamshire police are one of the poorest performing forces in the UK too. I guess it sucks to be young here.

    Good work Notts police. Finding one drunk & pissing off a whole generation

    1. I too live in Nottingham, and on most crime and poverty stats the place comes out badly – gun crime, knife crime, car crime, drug offences, poverty, poor schooling, poor policing – when compared with other UK cities. But these stats are worthless for comparison. The reason is this: when Local Govt was re-organised in the 1990s, N’ham was divide up in a unique way between N’ham City and N’ham County – the City lost a every one of its outer ring of middle class suburbs to the County. Now the crime rate appears horrendous, because the City population rates are not diluted by the middle class elements, they’re all in the County. The stats would have to be designed to take this into account for a valid comparison, but they’re not.

  14. “1,000 English cities and towns (including London).”

    yes but just like anything else in the uk at the moment is it actually enforced? where i have lived the street was a designated no alchemy zone (football ground nearby) yet every day the same group would be on the street corner with cans of carling and poorly rolled joints with plod just driving by and getting jeered at

  15. That’s a really short and content free article but you’ve managed to do a full on Daily Mail fear mongering job on it.

    Cory sez: “and the streets were *swarmed* with drug-dogs that were set on young people.”

    BBC sez: “Officers and *a* specially-trained dog”

    Is it possible for *a* dog to swarm? And “set on” rather implies “attacked”, poor use of words. Drug dog is not the same as riot dog.

    And that 90% claim? [[Citation Needed]]

    You should know better than to base your Monday morning outrage on a half page article on the BBC website.

    This Is Nottingham have much more information about the nature of the operation, much of which was based around education and information –


    “Youth workers and police officers spoke to 266 young people across the city, including those who were vulnerable of becoming a victim or involved in crime.”

    “Another team of officers and a drugs dog were also checking people as they got off buses in Beastmarket Hill, while covert officers on the buses identified suspicious activity.”

    “Ten people suspected of offences were taken to a special search centre at Central Police Station where officers had an array of technology to search for weapons and drugs.”

    Wow, a whole ten people, that’s a mighty big war they’ve got going.

    “These included a metal detector arch, a drugs screening device and a full body scanner” – so that’s one of each, again, big war they’ve got there there.

    “Saturday night’s crackdown was the culmination of two months of work including school visits, low-profile patrols by street officers engaging with youths and searches of target areas using dog teams.”

    Quote rozzers – “Our approach involves improving education and increased public safety and awareness. Through our youth issues officers, we go into to schools and educate children from an early age that carrying a knife is dangerous and committing such crimes has serious consequences.

    Doesn’t sound like a war to me, sounds like neighbourhood policing combined with a high visibility but targeted operation.

    And no mention of this mythical curfew. No-one was being sent home. Kids were not banned from the streets.

    I am really disappointed in BB. I thought you were better than this. Resorting to hyperbole is not the way to convince, especially when you spend so much time fighting the extremist fear-mongering tactics of the likes of the Daily Fail and Fox News.

    This is a serious issue and overcooking the outrage just convinces people you are an uninformed hot-head who doesn’t think or know what he’s talking about. Which I don’t think is the case.

    1. Those complaining about Cory’s hyperbole just don’t get it and as he hasn’t been exactly overt about it himself, let me see if I have an explanation. You see, something has been bugging me about many of his posts of late. The hype, the sensationalism, the simplification. But I could not quite put my finger on it until I read Paul’s post, and then the penny dropped.

      I believe Cory could be deliberately conducting a campaign of hperbolic fear-mongering on the other side of the argument from any given position that the Daily Mail would take – a kind of ‘anti-Daily Mail’. Same approach, same disregard for ‘reality’, same exaggeration as the Daily Mail, but on ‘our’ side not ‘theirs’. A typical Daily Mail headline could be lampooned as “Shock, Horror, Probe” – and Cory takes much the same approach. It is a journalistic style – for those who like their outrage packaged and thematically consistent – e.g. Daily Mail readers – but they are not the only ones, so Cory is performing a valuable service.

      It is subtle, I’ll grant you, but awesome.
      Just look at it.

      1. That’s not clever – hysteria and hyperbole is the behaviour which gives left wingers, environmentalists, feminists and human rights advocates a bad name – think PETA, Andrea Dworkin, or the recent ‘Climategate’ shitstorm concocted by the motley forces of conservatives, idiot climate skeptics, religious nutbags and big oil. I’m as bemused as anyone as to why this is, but it’s a truism that the right gets carte blanche to engage in deception, exaggeration and false flag action, but the left will always be called to answer for it whenever the are found to engage in it – perhaps because they believe that they value honesty; certainly, the right has never stated convincingly that they share this value…

  16. “swarmed with” “set on”

    Do I really need to tell you what is wrong with this article? and thats before we come to the stats. “Over 1,000 English cities and towns” Really??? Given that there are just over 1000 towns, and a handful of cities, I call bullshit on that number.

    Another fact check if one was needed “anyone between 13-24 getting off a bus into town was sent through a metal-detector”, totally impossible, there are two bus stations in Nottingham, and hundreds of bus stops, it appears they had one scanner.

    This isn’t your greatest work.

    1. Ignoring BB’s usual hyperbole for a moment, the lack of 100% efficiency in the searching is not really the issue. Any amount of people being searched for merely being 24 and under is too many.

  17. Maybe if the “kids” children had something to do.
    What facilities are available cheaply and safe for “kids” children to do….

    Idle hands….

  18. Derk (#11): in another, quite recent time, the signs would have said “No more than two gypsies at one time” with exactly the same motivation. The existence of shoplifting children doesn’t change the fact that it’s a discriminatory, collective-punishment attitude.

  19. The thing you missed on this post (which I think is also the underlying reason behind the few heated responses) is that the problem with yob culture in Britain is still big in many communities, at least outside London.

    You still have cases like a mother-daughter suicide because of yobs bullying and a man dying while challenging yobs that routinely tormented him.

    Are we oppressing young people? Maybe, but this is also a reaction to some young people oppressing their own communities. Hate ASBOs as much as you want, they do work in most cases; I experienced it with my neighbours (near Manchester), where a few calls from police threatening ASBOs were enough to make them behave. Even when they don’t work, they still make it easier to record a history of bad behaviour and follow up with harsher penalties.

    Yob culture was somehow understandable in the 80s, when the only thing that the underclass could expect from society was a big “up yours”. After 18 years of huge increases in minimum wage, subsidies and opportunities for improvement, this sort of behaviour is simply not acceptable any more.

    1. Most murders, rapes and other serious crimes are carried out by adults. They seem to be targeting the wrong people.

    2. Those cases you cite are quite sad, but are those incidents worth demonizing all young people, creating a new criminal class and generally ceding ground to terror?

      My high school graduating class of 200 had three young men end up in prison. Several became physicians, lawyers and educators. One recieved a silver star and two purple hearts. Should all of us have been treated as if we would all end up doing hard time? I’d wager those same three young men would still have ended up making poor choices and some of those truly successful young people would have had their plans derailed.

      You do nothing positive by making young people out to be villains. What then need is space, privacy, trust and, on occasion, honest engagement by concerned adults.

      Drug dogs and checkpoints are for criminals.

      1. Those cases are not isolated, I could link dozens of others in the last month alone. As I said, in Britain yob culture has been a problem for a long time; in the last 18 years the State has provided (and is still providing) a lot of incentives for young people to stay (or get back) on track. A little stick to go with carrots is sometimes necessary.

        (Unfortunately, if the Tories get a majority in May, we’ll get back to the good old days, when the emphasis was on stick and stick only. Then you’ll really see how to criminalize entire classes; this sort of thing will look like fun in comparison.)

    3. The examples you cite are both cases in which people were routinely harassed and bullied by their neighbors, and in which there was a shocking pattern of police negligence. How does randomly stopping and searching young people in downtown Nottingham resolve these issues?

  20. As deomstrated by previous commenters and is apparent from the style and language used, this is an overly exaggerated and woefully under researched blog post. Within the targeted age range myself, and spending many late nights out in a few towns and cities, I have never once experience this curfew, and suspect I never will.

    It would perhaps be more suitable to interpret this event as the local police making a demonstration of their capability, to issue a warning: “carrying knives and drugs is unnaceptable”. Indeed it is possibly even a good sign that as few as ten were taken to be searched, considering those ten as a proportion of all the targeted age range observed by the police during that event.

  21. In some ways I’m quite glad I live in the UK.

    I honestly believe that there isn’t a single country in the world where the government doesn’t think like this. It just happens that I live in a country where they are really bad at hiding it. That’s a good thing, because I’d rather know.

    (+1 to the idea that any number of children being automatically searched for no other reason than their age makes this a good article. But of course that means that any hyperbole on BoingBoing’s part would be wasted, too)

  22. Seriously, how many posters here have direct experience of Nottingham? It’s a nice place in the week, marred by the hordes of menschlich Dreck that arrive (mainly by tram) in the evenings and during the weekend. I don’t agree with the criminalising of youths any more than the average Boinger or Happy Mutant, but that isn’t the problem here. The problem is that the police and justice systems are being badly let down by the people and organisations that ought to be their partners in raising a generation of socially responsible young people – instead schools, social services, local government and importantly parents (as well as businesses who ought to be providing responsibilities and reasonable terms of employment) are delinquent in their duties, delivering a generation of wild beasts to near-adultood which the police are then left to try and control.

    Have you seen the fights in Nottingham town centre on a Saturday night? In the day, the square is a gathering place for skaters, emos and all sorts of alternative teens (How the town has developed such a scene is unknown to me since the chances of a punk teen surviving to adulthood unmolested is practically nil). At night you don’t see any alternative kids there at all – despite the UK’s biggest rock club being just a 5 minute walk away; because they would be torn to shreds in seconds. As it is, the square is left to swaggering gangs of the most stereotypical chavs who treat it like some kind of gladiatorial arena, falling upon the least numerous among them in fits of orgiastic violence.

    So yeah, the police’s natural response worries me – demonstrating that the authoritarian’s response always involves exercising greater force or control; but frankly, they’re dealing with people who won’t exhibit any self-control so I’m not sure what they are supposed to do.

    1. Seriously, how many posters here have direct experience of Nottingham?

      I have family in Nottingham, and yes, I would agree with your comments.

      As for the 1000-town-curfew, I assume this refers to the 1000+ ‘dispersal zones‘ across the UK. These zones are not whole towns- three examples local to me are a bus-station (due to previous heroin dealing), a carpark (due to gatherings of ‘boy racers’), and a marketplace (due to post-pub fighting).

  23. this is sad and unsurprising. The UK on the whole was a hostile place to try raising a kid (particularly London, though Brum was only slightly more friendly). Seriously, people would look at you if your toddler was a little tearful or grumpy as though you should get your unruly pet under control! Glad I left really – I only miss the museums, galleries, Tottenham Crt Road and Forbidden Planet.

  24. Surely the comparison of only allowing two kids in a store at once to only allowing 2 Jews or blacks is a shade on the hyperbolic side. I’m just saying… granted, it’s a personal rights issue, but it has little to do with racism.
    Then again, this is from the country where burning caravans in effigy is still considered a good way to deal with the Roma. Maybe I’m off the mark a bit.

  25. Wait, kids, ages 13-24? Aren’t you considered an adult at 17 in the UK? (May have confused with another European Country). So, in other words, the majority of people being targeted here are voting adults? Not only is this profiling, but this is clearly human rights violations.

  26. This is a total lie. London absolutely does not have a curfew for anyone, kids or anyone else, and neither do 1,000 English towns. Terrible journalism.

      1. some may, not anywhere near 1000, and I doubt they’re town-wide curfews, much more likely to be ‘dispersal zones’ As Beanoli said above: “These zones are not whole towns- three examples local to me are a bus-station (due to previous heroin dealing), a carpark (due to gatherings of ‘boy racers’), and a marketplace (due to post-pub fighting)”

  27. Aside from the obviously sensationalist nature of the title I find this article depressingly misleading, having lived in Nottingham myself for 5 years as a University student (aged 18-23). I am sure I am not alone when I say that many of Nottingham’s 50’000 Students enjoyed a constructive relationship with the police, rather than “war” as it is described here.

    I was only once subject to a stop and search in Nottingham and that was because (as I found out on the news the next day) there had been an assault in the near vicinity, it was 2am, and I was the only person there. I was not asked to “go home” nor was I in intimidated in any way (despite being a bit drunk), one of the police officers even recommended a good place to get a Kebab at 2am. It certainly didn’t feel like Nottinghamshire Police had declared war on me.

  28. When people aren’t expected to be responsible for themselves, how can they be expected to raise their children to be responsible too. England is a Center-Left country with particularly strange (authoritarian) ways to deal with it’s own people.
    It’s become quite different from when I visited in the ’70s.

  29. A valuable service? fighting lies and propaganda with lies and propaganda is not productive. If nothing else, the anti-Daily Mail “team”, if that’s what we are, must have truth on its side.

  30. Haven´t you see that at some point England is becoming more like the parallel world we saw in Battle Royale? Old people affraid of kids.

  31. The only values being inculcated in the youth of the UK by these abuses of power is a simmering resentment of authority and the idea that wearing a uniform makes you powerful.

    The authorities are slowly digging their own grave, as there will come a point when these victims of state opression (which will only get worse) will “…be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”

    We cannot be controlled, only guided. We cannot be taught, only encouraged to learn, and ultimately we will not be oppressed.

  32. The authority exercised on children is losing it’s legitimacy. With human rights declared to be universal regardless of gender, ethnicity, and yes even age, the question we are forced to face is the following: How can we guide new and developing members of society into integrated and responsible members of society capable of both facing its laws, and using its freedoms; without treating them like lesser beings?

    We seem to be very far from the answer.

  33. I’ve worked with these kids. I’ve met their parents and teachers. I’ve been into some of their homes. I’ve talked to their older and younger, brothers and sisters. I’ve liased with the Police and Community Support officers about them. I’ve talked to the shopkeepers who serve them.

    And I can tell you there’s really only one solution.

    Cut their goolies off!

  34. Aaaargh! This piece is infuriating! I want to agree with you, I really, really do. ASBOs are fundamentally wrong, the increasing demonisation of kids in the UK (and I suspect elsewhere too)is incredibly worrying but…

    This is the sort of half-baked, hyperbole ridden, under researched guff that you would quite rightly rip apart if it had been produced elsewhere, on another subject. “I asked my wife” no matter how intelligent, knowledgeable and generally wonderful she may be, is not an acceptable source, particularly when you’ve already presented one piece of data that’s incorrect. I imagine you’re taliking about dispersal orders (like the one in London you reported on this time last year.) Are the 1000 in constant use, or short term measures (as is sometimes the case)? Is it 1000 since the act came in, or 1000 currently etc etc?

    I’m sorry to whinge on. You’re right, this issue matters. A lot. Which is why it’s not good enough to attack it in a manner so readily dismissed by your opponents. It needs to be solid, evidenced, reasoned and irrefutable. People ranting about stuff they know nothing about is what got us into this mess in the first place…

  35. Welcome to Big Brother.

    You are now being monitored by more CCTV camera’s than anywhere else in the world. Your car journeys are being logged and stored by car parking camera’s and police ANPR. Your emails and telephone conversations EVERY SIGNLE ONE OF THEM are being logged legally. You can be jailed without ever being charged with anything. You can be subjected to a curfew without warning. You have NO RIGHT TO SILENCE. Governemnt media campaigns are encouraging you to grass on your friends and neighbours.

    This is your Britain, you are building your own nightmare.

    Those that are willing to swap freedom for security deserve neither and lose both.

  36. I was in Nottingham on Saturday night — and even caught a bus at one of the big termini in the city centre close to midnight — and saw no sign of this. There might have been one or more checkpoints, but the claim that “every bus” was checked is simply not true. I did see a few pairs of police ambling around, but they seemed to be on their regular patrol and ignored scruffily-dressed and young-looking me.

    I agree that the UK has some serious problems in its attitude toward children — although I’d argue that while the legislation and enforcement is new, the attitude is as old as time — but the cause isn’t helped by articles like this. You’re basically writing strawmen for the other side to demolish.

  37. At the age of 17, I was thrown in jail for being out past curfew on Christmas night. I was a paying (and civil) customer in a restaurant when a heart-hardened manager got into an argument with one of my friends. I was ashamed to admit it at the time, but I cried out of fear of what would happen to me. The police harassed me about “what I was on” when I had bloodshot eyes after crying on a cold night. I was sober, and the whole thing was BS.

    Right here in the good ‘ol US of A!

  38. Much as I regret the police policy, the People have brought it upon themselves. Teenage hooliganism (the upsurge of yobs) has reached a critical point. The average citizen has no defense against these thugs. Any attempt do defend yourself – especially if you’re successful – results in arrest and jail time. The yobs know that, and act accordingly.

    The police have long since tried to convince the public that they – the police – must be the only defense against crime. Don’t try to do anything yourself, let us do it.

    The only way to recover (if indeed Formerly Great Britain is salvageable) is to write off the yobs as a lost cause; start anew with the current generation, bring back strict discipline and real education – and that means the Western Canon; it means the Four R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic, and Religion. (You may want to hold off on the last until wishy-washy prelates like the Archbishop of Canterbury have been replaced.)

    1. So, in what you’re describing, the police happily arrest people who stop thugs but not thugs, and so the people as an indiscriminate whole have brought curfews on themselves?

  39. Yeah, I’m going to support this, having been to Nottingham a few times. I’m not going to whine about kids, because it’s not just them by any stretch, but you do hear people call it Shottingham.

  40. I really wish I could agree with this and I probably would have if I hadn’t had the living cr*p kicked out of me by a group of teenagers in London. The reason? I looked at one of them “funny” apparently.

    Yeah, it’s 1984 meets Lord of the Flies, clash of Titans :(

  41. Cracking Post

    I happen to work with some fantastic kids (in the UK) the the kind of teens who’ve been given ASBOS etc and can turn themselves around when given stability, guidance and respect.

    Keep up this line of post Cory, we need kids who are taught respect and personal responsibility by being given respect and personal responsibility.

    I know this works with “tough kids” and it works easily with with the ordinary kids of bleeding heart liberals, like my own.

    If kids are threatening its because they’ve experienced threat. If they use fear and control it’s because that’s what we use against them. duh!!

  42. Hi. I am 17, almost 18. I have never stolen anything in my life, ever. And I’m sure that if you saw me in person, you would not be at all scared. Some of the things people are saying in these comments are really hurtful. Is that really what you think or do you just find it funny to post hateful things on the Internet?

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