Managing the Unmanageable: The Offence of Riot in England and Wales

Ashley Lowerson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses the current context and the use of the public order offence of ‘riot’ held in s. 1 of the Public Order Act 1986. It examines the historical roots of the statutory offence and the difficulty of securing a conviction following times of public disorder due to the nature and interpretation of the wording in s. 1. The article identifies, and uses as an example, the perception that football disorder includes riotous football fans, although official Home Office statistics on football disorder highlight that the offence of riot is not utilised. The statutory offence of ‘riot’ is an underused tool, although the term ‘riot’ is freely used by the media to describe disorderly behaviour. The article projects to make a recommendation that the factors underpinning the definition of riot needs to be re-examined to enable the judiciary to interpret s. 1 in a manner that is more practicable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-47
JournalJournal of Criminal Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


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