Clashes between police and rioters are taking place in Enfield Town this evening (Sunday), indicating that civic unrest is spreading after violent disorder in Tottenham last night.
Reports from the scene say up to 30 people, many of them young and wearing hooded clothes, have been pushed back from Enfield Town centre by police during a confrontation.
A police car was attacked and badly damaged, while shops came under attack from bricks and slabs of concrete, say as-yet unconfirmed eye-witness reports.
A strong police presence, including the riot squad clad in black, is bidding to protect the town centre from the mob.
Enfield borough borders Haringey, where rioting and looting took place last night. Enfield Town centre is easily accessible by train from Tottenham.
The allegations and counter-allegations of teenagers and the authorities about heavy-handed or incompetent policing are also reminiscent of 30 years ago.
The sequence of events in Tottenham at the weekend has many echoes of the Toxteth riots in Liverpool of 1981, as well as unrest in Tottenham itself in 1985 and other incidents of unrest that decade: a local flashpoint in a deprived urban area, the rapid escalation of a local protest into mayhem as others pile into the area – and long summer nights.
The television producer and commentator David Akinsanya was in Tottenham in the early hours of Sunday morning. He also covered some of the 1980s riots as a reporter. He said: "There are and there aren't similarities between what happened and earlier riots. In those days as a black youth you could be walking down the street, the police would bundle you into a van and nobody would see you for three days. That doesn't happen now. The black community is asking the police to get on top of gun crime, that's another change.
"But there are still many issues about policing in the area, and there are still good kids walking around Tottenham with their hoods up, trying to hide themselves away because they get endless grief from the police."
He added: "The other thing that's the same is the weather. If it had poured down they would all have gone home. We were actually saying earlier, before we knew anything about what was happening, that it was a nice night for a riot."
At least the trouble in Tottenham has not, so far, approached the scale of the worst incidents of the 1980s when thousands were injured, thousands more arrested and millions of pounds worth of damage caused.
In 1981 Toxteth saw some of the worst rioting in Britain. It began when police pursued a man into the area, wrongly suspecting that he had stolen a motorbike. A second man, Leroy Cooper, a photography student who had been at a youth club, intervened and was in turn arrested for assault. That night police were attacked by youths with petrol bombs and paving stones, and in the days and nights that followed more than 500 people were arrested in pitched battles, 470 police officers were injured and 70 buildings were burned down or demolished, including the 150-year-old Raquet Club, a survivor from the district's affluent Victorian heyday, and the famous Rialto Ballroom where the Beatles had played.
After four nights of violence the city's Protestant and Catholic bishops, David Shephard and Derek Worlock, united to appeal for peace and the archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, expressed concern. On 8 July the home secretary William Whitelaw agreed to a request from the Liverpool chief constable that 25 rounds of CS gas should be fired into the crowd by police, its first use on the UK mainland.
Weeks later the battles were over but trouble was still flaring up. On 28 July – the night before the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana – David Moore, who had a bad limp from an earlier car accident, was walking home from visiting friends in Toxteth. He was unable to move fast enough to get out of the way of a police car speeding across waste ground to break up a group of youths. He was hit, and died. More violence on the streets followed. After an investigation by another police force two officers were charged with manslaughter the year after, but acquitted.
Cooper pleaded guilty on legal advice and spent nine months in borstal. This summer he told the Liverpool Daily Post that when he left borstal the area still looked like a war zone. "The riot was a symptom of there being something really wrong with our society," he said. "We smashed our own community up, we destroyed our own homes. There had to be something wrong."
Earlier in 1981 in Brixton, where trouble was sparked when police stopped a young black man who been stabbed but who others thought was being arrested, more than 300 police and civilians were injured. Scores of vehicles and 83 buildings were burned, damaged or looted.
In Handsworth, Birmingham, in 1985, where there had also been trouble in 1981 and would be again in 1991 and 2005, two days and nights of looting and arson followed the arrest of a man. Two brothers died as the post office they ran went up in flames, 35 people were injured and more than 40 shops were destroyed or looted. The local artist and photographer Pogus Caesar told the BBC in 2010, when his images of the riots were exhibited to mark the anniversary: "The scars of 1985 will never heal completely but people of Handsworth are strong, they are resilient. The candles are burning slowly but the flame is bright."
And of course there was Tottenham. In October 1985 the Broadwater Farm estate was the scene of one of the most notorious and chilling incidents, when PC Keith Blakelock was murdered in rioting that followed the death of a local woman, Cynthia Jarrett, who had collapsed during a police raid on her home after her son was arrested. Three local men including Winston Silcott were jailed for the murder but cleared on appeal four years later. Two officers were later cleared at the Old Bailey of fabricating evidence.
In Liverpool 30 years after the riots people still feel aftershocks of the nine nights of street fights, arson, vandalism and looting. The anniversary has been marked by a book and an exhibition at the museum of Liverpool.
The riots led to a reappraisal of policing in black communities, race relations policy in general and the urgent need for regeneration in Britain's post-industrial rundown inner cities.
Lord Gifford's report found that racial discrimination had been "uniquely horrific" in Liverpool. Lord Scarman's report, after the Brixton riots, urged positive discrimination to tackle the problems facing the black community.
Twenty years later, in 2001, many of the same points were made again in official reports on summer riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley. The Cantle report, commissioned by the Home Office, found that many lived "parallel lives", never mixing with people from different backgrounds.
It also warned that some regeneration schemes had actually made the situation worse, forcing different communities to compete against each other, breeding resentment and anger.
Riots of the 1980s
• St Pauls, Bristol, April 1980: Sparked by a police raid on the Black and White Café. In the day and night of rioting there were 130 arrests, 19 police were injured, and fire engines and 12 police cars were hit
• Brixton, London, April 1981: People allegedly believed a stabbed youth died through police brutality. Over two nights almost 150 buildings and more than 100 vehicles were damaged. At least 65 citizens and 299 police were injured. The damage was put at £7.5m
• Toxteth, Liverpool, July 1981: Began with the arrest of Leroy Cooper, 20. Over nine days in which CS gas was used by police for the first time on the UK mainland, a man died, knocked down by a police vehicle, 500 people were arrested, 468 police were hurt
• Handsworth, September 1985: Sparked by another arrest. Among the casualties, the brothers Kassamali Moledina and Amirali died in their post office, which burned, 35 others were hurt
• Broadwater Farm, Tottenham, October 1985: Began after the death of Cynthia Jarrett, 49, in a police raid. A small rally escalated into violence. In the evening PC Keith Blakelock was hacked to death at the Farm. Three local men were jailed for his murder, but cleared on appeal in 1991, after evidence that showed police notes had been altered.