BNC Text FY7

Nottingham Oral History Project: interview. Sample containing about 7583 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C155

PS25L X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
FY7PS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
FY7PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
FY7PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 094902 recorded on unknown date. LocationNottinghamshire: Nottingham () Activity: Oral history project interview

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (FY7PSUNK) [1] Right.
[2] [...] start.
[3] Erm ... you've worked first of all as erm a probation officer.
(PS25L) [4] Yes.
(FY7PS000) [5] Erm [...] probation office
(PS25L) [6] The one right [...]
(FY7PS000) [7] [...] right next right underneath the flats.
[8] Erm between what years did you you work there?
(PS25L) [9] From nineteen seventy seven through to nineteen eighty two.
(FY7PS000) [10] And since nineteen eighty two, am I right in saying that you've worked at the law centre in ?
(PS25L) [11] Yes.
[12] Yes I've kept up contacts with people.
(FY7PS000) [13] Mhm.
[14] Erm starting with your work as a probation officer.
[15] Erm sis you have a lot of contact with tenants in the flats?
(PS25L) [16] We did yes.
[17] We were on the ground floor of the flats, and we got to know a lot of them as neighbours as well as some of them as clients.
[18] And we shared some of the same problems, sewage s leaking into the offices and asbestos lagging round the piping.
[19] So yeah, we got on
(FY7PS000) [20] Mhm.
(PS25L) [21] pretty well.
[22] And worked with the tenants association too.
(FY7PS000) [23] Mhm.
[24] And what kind of work did you do with the tenants' association?
(PS25L) [25] Erm it it varied really w we saw our role in general as being to to support and and facilitate the activities that they wanted to get involved
(FY7PS000) [26] Yeah.
(PS25L) [27] in.
[28] R not to sort o determine in any way, the kinds of issues they took up.
[29] Erm the the probation office itself has b had a rather big conference room, and
(FY7PS000) [30] Mhm.
(PS25L) [31] and that was a facility that we made available to the tenants group for public meetings and and that kind of thing.
[32] Erm we also offered everything from sort of secretarial help and er use of photocopiers and duplicators, to the tenants' group, through to I guess being able to perhaps suggest to them who in the council it might be that they needed to speak to, or perhaps tactically how to to go about achieving their particular aims.
[33] Erm certainly a lot of meetings in the early days, focused on the level of policing in the flats.
[34] Or as tenants saw it, the lack of policing in the flats.
(FY7PS000) [35] Mhm.
(PS25L) [36] And er to some extent, probation obviously had something to say about that.
(FY7PS000) [37] Tt.
[38] In terms of policing, was it erm you were saying about there was a view that the police were not
(PS25L) [39] There was a feeling that you never saw a policeman.
[40] Actually walking through the complex.
[41] And er the people who lived in the flats felt unprotected and and isolated from er from police support.
(FY7PS000) [42] Mhm.
[43] Why do you think there was a f a fear that people wanted the police to erm going round the co I presume they wanted more wanted more police activity.
[44] They wanted the police to be seen a lot more.
[45] Was that Why do you think that was the case?
[46] People felt that way?
(PS25L) [47] There obviously was er the odd incident actually inside the flats.
(FY7PS000) [48] Mhm.
(PS25L) [49] Fights, G B Hs, erm the occasional mugging.
[50] And just the sense of security and I don't think that the level of incidence was very high, but it was enough to make people feel insecure about walking through there at night.
[51] Wi without any you know, without any police presence around.
(FY7PS000) [52] Mhm.
[53] Did you have much contact with erm individual clients in the flats?
[54] Or
(PS25L) [55] I do What a lot of contact with individual
(FY7PS000) [56] Yeah.
(PS25L) [57] people in the flats?
[58] Some
(FY7PS000) [59] Mhm.
(PS25L) [60] some as actual probation clients.
[61] Erm and as many a as many people I have contact with through either the tenants' group or through the the Dayroom, which was erm set up in the probation office, but was for people who lived in the area, not necessarily for
(FY7PS000) [62] Mhm.
[63] Okay what Yeah.
(PS25L) [64] offenders.
(FY7PS000) [65] Now what was the Dayroom?
(PS25L) [66] Well w we just er opened it s I think it was three and a half days a week.
(FY7PS000) [67] Yeah.
(PS25L) [68] Just flung the doors open
(FY7PS000) [69] Mhm.
(PS25L) [70] basically, and and said, you know, This is a place local people can come into for at least initially a cup of tea, a chat, whatever.
[71] And the idea was to provide a a place where where hopefully local people could erm identify for themselves the problems that they shared in common.
[72] And take some kind of action.
[73] It wasn't intended to duplicate, the work of the tenants' association, it was it was looking at different kinds of of issues.
[74] And issues that also affected people in the surrounding streets, not just people in the flats themselves.
[75] So being on supplementary benefit was one of the obvious things that people in the dayroom, chose to look at, cos it affected most of them.
[76] Erm ... I think it it it started off, people would come in the dayroom, with their own supplementary benefit problem, and and clearly we had the sort of handbooks there and and they saw the probation officers on on duty as people who could help them to sort out that sort out that kind of problem.
[77] Erm but f what it moved towards was them recognizing that they could sort out their own problems, and perhaps sort out each others.
[78] And so a sort of small welfare rights group began to form in the dayroom.
(FY7PS000) [79] Mhm.
(PS25L) [80] And and that eventually led on to them contacting other interested groups in the area erm like some lawyers from a legal action group, and er other other groups who meet together for whatever purpose in the area, and and setting up Free Legal and Welfare Rights, which was a a formal advice session run on a Thursday night.
[81] A lot of local people erm put a lot of effort into creating that that organization.
[82] and and kept it going.
[83] Erm right through till eighty two when it actually got funding.
(FY7PS000) [84] Mhm.
[85] Was that the Am I right in saying, that was the origins of
(PS25L) [86] Of
(FY7PS000) [87] the law centre?
(PS25L) [88] That's right .
(FY7PS000) [89] Am I right in saying that?
(PS25L) [90] Yes.
[91] Yes it was.
[92] And the the local people and professionals who were involved erm proved the need if you like.
[93] Demonstrated the level of need in the area, for legal, welfare rights advice.
[94] Did all the groundwork, did the lobbying, got in touch with the councillors, wrote the application for money.
[95] And finally after two years the a full time centre was set up.
[96] And many of those [...] either lived in the flats or in the surrounding surrounding streets.
(FY7PS000) [97] Mhm.
[98] Moving on, erm ... in te you know [...] obviously you must have had a fair amount of c you said you had a fair amount of contact with erm tenants in the flats.
[99] Erm during the time you were there, between seventy seven and eighty two, and you've probably kept some contact since.
[100] Have things changed in the flats at all? [...] would you say that in terms of the way people feel.
[101] Erm
(PS25L) [102] It it's changed at
(FY7PS000) [103] Or
(PS25L) [104] various points in time.
(FY7PS000) [105] Yeah.
(PS25L) [106] When I when I first got to know the flats, certainly after the the incident of a of an elderly lady being erm being mugged and beaten up by some some kids up there.
(FY7PS000) [107] Mm.
(PS25L) [108] Certainly after that incident and all the erm the very overly dramatic publicity that centred on the flats.
[109] Erm I don't know the figures, but the feeling certainly was that everybody wanted to get out, and thy wanted to get out as quickly as they could.
(FY7PS000) [110] As a result of that incident? [...] and the publicity?
(PS25L) [111] Erm certainly that that highlighted for people, the the sort of fears that they may have had before.
[112] And and generated fears that were unrealistic, and the press report sort of had, you know one rape, one mugging every every three minutes, or something crazy.
[113] And certainly there was a high turnover for a couple of years erm late seventies.
[114] And it was very difficult to erm ... to get to get much activity going in the flats cos people's people's aim was to get out rather than to improve the conditions or or work on local issues.
[115] They weren't gonna be there long enough.
[116] Or at least they didn't want to be there long enough.
[117] And then it it then it settled again I think, in the very late seventies through to the early eighties.
[118] There seemed to be a period of of much more stability in the population
(FY7PS000) [119] Mhm.
(PS25L) [120] up there.
[121] Erm see the last couple of years it's changed again.
(FY7PS000) [122] Mhm.
(PS25L) [123] Particularly with the the s the strong belief that the flats were going to come down which has subsequently proved to be true.
[124] People are taking the opportunity to get out when they can.
[125] A lot A lot of well quite a few people and I mean th have been in the flats way before I came to to .
[126] And have quite a lot of good things to say about the flats and the
(FY7PS000) [127] Mhm.
(PS25L) [128] area.
(FY7PS000) [129] Yeah, what kind of good points do they make?
(PS25L) [130] I think two levels really.
[131] One is th the actual facilities round .
(FY7PS000) [132] Mhm.
(PS25L) [133] Erm you know it's it's near th near town, it's near good shops, it's near near the schools.
[134] [cough] You've got the little bank of sort of library and arts and crafts centre
(FY7PS000) [135] Yeah.
(PS25L) [136] and youth club.
[137] So it it's it's not as isolated i as some of the the more modern council estates, that are sort o stuck on the edge of the the city.
[138] And are great sprawling er masses of property.
[139] Er and some people have have formed strong friendships and and strong contacts with other residents in the flats.
[140] And for them
(FY7PS000) [141] Mhm.
(PS25L) [142] this is where their friends are.
(FY7PS000) [143] Mhm.
[144] On the basis of your experience you know, [...] you was you said that, the fact that erm sometimes you've got tenants who've formed really good relationships in the flat.
[145] That's erm would you say that obviously it's a b it's very difficult to actually ask cos it to some extent you'd be generalizing anyway, would you say that people in the flats, do stick together or or do you get some people who isolated and just k just don't have any flats?
[146] I mean how how does it [...]
(PS25L) [147] I think it's difficult to make friends
(FY7PS000) [148] Yeah.
(PS25L) [149] in the flats.
(FY7PS000) [150] Mhm.
(PS25L) [151] Erm just the the geography of the flats doesn't help much.
[152] I mean you're you're gonna bump into your your neighbour opposite I suppose, both walking up and down the stairs, but but that's about all really.
[153] There's no erm there's no I dunno, bit of front garden where you where you feel secure, but you can have a chat with other people, it's it's an isolating design.
[154] Erm so it always seemed as if something else was the trigger for friendships [...] .
[155] I mean people ha found they had something else in common.
[156] Kids in the same class at school.
[157] Erm or a need to I dunno find some sort of facility in common.
[158] I mean th there w there was always some kind of trigger that that [cough] that broke that initial feeling of isolation and and suspicion.
[159] And I think people were quite suspicious of of their neighbours.
[160] Er until they actually met them and got to know them.
(FY7PS000) [161] Yeah.
[162] Why why do you feel it is that people are suspicious of their neighbours?
[163] I mean I
(PS25L) [164] Several people who came into the area
(FY7PS000) [165] Yeah.
(PS25L) [166] c came in with with the the reputation and the press reports about the area, firmly embedded in their in their head.
[167] And that that would make anybody initially very suspicious of of getting to know o other people there.
[168] I mean the the press reports on the flats have always been, erm very unjust and very very disturbing.
(FY7PS000) [169] So you're saying you're the in terms of the media and how it's erm presented to the outside world, I mean what do you what do you f that You've said this now you felt you feel it's unfair.
[170] Erm
(PS25L) [171] Well yeah.
[172] I mean it's it's portrayed the the flats as a sort of nest of of criminals you know.
[173] Erm high high level of crime.
[174] Of all varieties, erm violent crime, prostitution, theft, muggings.
[175] That's the sort of image it's been given.
[176] Er i and it was given that image by pointing the cameras at at at the flats, and then spieling off the crime figures for the whole subdivision.
[177] Which is a massive area.
[178] Er but you know, it's it's very effective I meant it's stuck.
[179] That's that.
[180] And it's reputation has travelled or it it's false reputation has travelled quite a long way.
(FY7PS000) [181] Mhm.
(PS25L) [182] I mean you go to other towns, they they might not know Nottingham, but they've usually heard of .
(FY7PS000) [183] So what impact does that erm basis of your experience, what impact does that have, when this is the kind of publicity?
[184] What impact does it have on the tenants who are living in the flats?
(PS25L) [185] Well c certainly I mean obviously it has an impact on on individuals who feel
(FY7PS000) [186] Yeah.
(PS25L) [187] cautious and and er suspicious and also angry about being labelled in that kind of way.
[188] Erm but, at it at its worst I mean the worst publicity followed this this incident of a an elderly lady having her fingers broken and and money stolen off her by some some lads in their I don't know late early teens I think.
[189] Erm and that brought everybody down.
[190] I mean all the cameras, erm all the newspapers from the the sort of cheap tabloid ones, right through to Sunday Times, Observer.
[191] I mean the place was just buzzing with with journalists.
[192] And er not much of the publicity was fair or accurate.
[193] And that did result in a group of of people getting together and saying, We want to do something, to to rectify this this bad image and show the good side of .
(FY7PS000) [194] Mhm.
(PS25L) [195] Erm and they they put in an awful lot of work in in setting up the Festival.
[196] Which was very much a local affair.
[197] Kids from the local schools, erm small stalls with with handmade handmade stuff, erm local bands, local music, local food.
[198] Er it was it was great, it was er it was coming out and saying, There are lots of good things happening in this area .
(FY7PS000) [199] Mhm.
(PS25L) [200] And we're we're proud of living here.
[201] And the press did come down, I mean it got some coverage.
[202] The the festival I th went on I think for for three summers.
(FY7PS000) [203] Mhm.
(PS25L) [204] Erm
(FY7PS000) [205] What years were they?
[206] What years [...]
(PS25L) [207] It's very hard to remember.
[208] [whispering] Seventy seven [] I would think it was seventy nine, eighty and eighty one.
(FY7PS000) [209] Mhm.
(PS25L) [210] As a guess.
(FY7PS000) [211] Erm.
(PS25L) [212] Who was actually involved in organizing that?
[213] Was that something that came from I mean, to what extent ... if at all were were erm tenants of the flats involved in that?
(FY7PS000) [214] Well the tenants of the flats were very heavily involved in that .
(PS25L) [215] Erm I think at that stage, Robin was the the chairman of the tenants association ,
(FY7PS000) [216] Mhm.
(PS25L) [217] and he was very active on the committee.
[218] I think Stan may have may have been around.
[219] Stan , during the festival as well.
[220] Erm but yes, lots of people from the flats, either taking part in terms of sitting on the committee and doing all the planning and getting all the various permissions that you needed to do all sorts of things.
[221] Erm or just being involved on the day, helping out on the stalls.
[222] Or just taking part by coming.
[223] It was very much a flats activity.
(FY7PS000) [224] Mhm.
(PS25L) [225] Erm again a little bit of support from people who worked in the area.
[226] But you know, of the practical kind that you need.
[227] Somewhere to meet, telephone to use, how to get publicity out.
[228] Erm but it didn't come from professionals at all, it came from people wanting to make some other kind of statement, about what what Flats were like .
(FY7PS000) [229] Mhm.
[230] By by the third Summer I think it had outlived its usefulness and it had become much more like a a mini-goose fair.
[231] And I certainly didn't particularly enjoy it i in the final year.
[232] It was too big and it was divorced from the flats and the the people in the flats.
[233] But it served its purpose.
[234] So you'd say that as a b er as a result of that it did it did er so it did When you say it served its purpose, it did improve the image?
(PS25L) [235] It did improve the image and it it improved people's confidence I think in themselves and in the area.
(FY7PS000) [236] Mhm.
(PS25L) [237] And must have been I think it was one of the things that that helped to lead to a more settled period.
(FY7PS000) [238] Mhm.
(PS25L) [239] People not not moving out at quite the same rate of knots.
(FY7PS000) [240] Mhm.
[241] Erm moving [laughing] again [] .
[242] Erm one of the things that is said which is is that, in the flats, an exceptionally high proportion of tenants erm are reliant for for [...] are on benefits.
[243] And obviously that adds certain constraints to to sort of erm income.
[244] What kind of impact do you think it has, actually ... an area that you ju that the flats [...] complex, in which there's basically, not as mass mass relative poverty?
(PS25L) [245] Well it [laugh] it obviously reduces the the amount of er of cash that's sort of flowing round the .
(FY7PS000) [246] Mhm.
(PS25L) [247] And obviously it's had an impact on the row of shops out on Road for example.
[248] If you look at erm the the turnover of shops down that road, then that must say something about the amount of money in the area.
[249] I think I I mean it' ironic really, I think they're at last getting erm the kinds of shops that that best suit the area, on Road now.
[250] I mean for the first time there's a erm a sort of Asian wholesale supermarket.
[251] Opened up.
[252] Erm t to me it's amazing that that has never happened before, if you think of the the Asian population, certainly in in the , area.
[253] Erm I dunno, they always seem to get it wrong.
[254] I mean they put the strangest shops on Road.
[255] That that didn't really deal initially with with what the population needed, which was cheap decent food and and and cheap decent clothing.
[256] It's perhaps improved somewhat over the years.
[257] Er lack of money cuts down everybody's options.
[258] I mean that's what it does, it reduces people's choice.
[259] Er it also had practical consequences.
[260] Well I think partly the reputation of of the flats and also the general knowledge that not very many people in the flats have much money.
[261] Erm had an influence on on credit.
[262] People couldn't get it.
[263] I mean they they would go right through the process of buying something on credit, and it would be fine until it got to, Erm where do you live.
[264] And as soon as er an address on the flats was given out, the offer of credit was withdrawn.
(FY7PS000) [265] Mhm.
(PS25L) [266] Again, because it was seen as being you know, an area of bad payers.
(FY7PS000) [267] mhm.
(PS25L) [268] Bad debtors.
[269] Erm not not correct, I'm sure not accurate in terms of the numbers of population.
[270] But that's what that's what shops in in town believed.
(FY7PS000) [271] So so what you're saying is it was not related that credit was refused, not because of that fact that say people were actually on benefits, cos er the same person actually somewhere else would would probably get It's the very fact they actually live in the flats, that actually has largely accounted for people not being able to get credit .
(PS25L) [272] Yes I'm sure.
[273] Yes.
[274] Yeah.
[275] It was also er i it also made the area a target for er money lenders of the worst variety.
[276] Erm I mean obviously you've got people up in the flats who at times, hit absolute desperate rock-bottom situations.
[277] Erm you know, no bank's gonna give them a loan.
[278] Maybe they can't pay the the 'leccy bill and they're in rent arrears and you know it's Christmas and the kids want everything they see on the television.
[279] Y you know it's it doesn't take much to push someone into the situation where they're prepared to to take a big loan from a money lender, to try and clear all their other debts.
[280] And er unfortunately that's usually pretty disastrous.
[281] Er the money lender that that focus on areas like the flats, er charge exorbitant rates of interest for repayment.
[282] And aren't averse to using fairly unpleasant methods to er to get the money back if you begin to default on payments.
[283] Er a lot a lot of those merchants used to Probably still do, mooch round the flats.
[284] Prey preying on people's property.
[285] I think what what what never ceases to amaze me about about people in the flats on benefit, is is how many of them do manage, how many of them never owe a penny.
[286] How many of them turn their kids out, erm you know, in decent clothes, properly fed.
[287] I mean I don't think I could do it.
[288] I I find it extraordinary.
[289] I mean I know how some of them do do it.
[290] They do it by going without themselves.
[291] Erm jumble sales have always been popular in .
[292] There's many a a mum you know, who'll who'll clothe herself from a jumble sale.
[293] Maybe not clothe her kids, but clothe herself from one.
[294] Erm and nights out on the town, you know, trips to the pictures, that kind of thing are are are rare events to say the least.
[295] It's extraordinary how people do manage
(FY7PS000) [296] Mhm.
(PS25L) [297] Without erm you know
(FY7PS000) [298] Mhm.
(PS25L) [299] resorting to to the things I'm sure I'd resort to, like shoplifting or the methods of gaining money.
[300] A lot of people who I'd just describe as having I dunno, people with real dignity and real sense of pride who manage to to bring up their kids and and survive in a decent way, in quite a hostile environment.
[301] You know, poor housing and no money are two critical factors that operate against people round here.
[302] So I've got a lot of admiration for for people living in these flats. ...
(FY7PS000) [303] [...] Having said this now about a hostile environment.
[304] That people were in the flats were operating in a in a hostile environment, you said, low income and bad housing.
[305] What what do you think can the [...] can they force someone actually in that situation
(PS25L) [306] What th what the consequences
(FY7PS000) [307] Yeah.
(PS25L) [308] and be?
(FY7PS000) [309] I mean you've spoken about how resilient some tenants are.
(PS25L) [310] Yes.
(FY7PS000) [311] And how well the they've done in that situation.
(PS25L) [312] Well if if you add to those two factors, erm isolation and and loneliness, erm then the consequences can vary I mean certainly there were large numbers or quite a few elderly people up in the flats, who who survived who survived very poorly really.
[313] Both in terms of social contact and er and also just in erm in literal terms, being properly fed and you know keeping warm over the Winter.
[314] Erm I mean they they they didn't venture out the flats, they didn't know who or how to contact for help, and and some of them you know, were were pretty bad over the Winter periods.
[315] But you only find out when something dramatic happens.
[316] A lot of very young single mums, if the didn't have relative in the area, found the pressures of living in the flats on benefit, er pretty severe.
[317] Er and we all know about non-accidental injury.
[318] And I suppose broadly speaking there are two kinds.
[319] I mean there's the sort of psychopathic, non-accidental injury that you're never gonna be able to do anything about, and it's best just to take the kids away and and and break the link completely.
[320] But there's a lot of non-accidental injury that that results from from someone being unable to cope with the pressures they're under.
[321] And and certainly that occurred in the flats.
[322] And given you know just just a bit of help, be it financial or or erm housing or or help in terms of of contact and support and er you know having having people round you you can call on.
[323] For help even if it's only in the emotional kind.
[324] Just a little bit of help can er can can bring those families back together and prevent those situations happening again.
[325] But yes, I mean there was b battering went on in the flats from time to time.
[326] Er not helped much by by er blues parties that went on.
(PS25L) [327] Mhm.
(FY7PS000) [328] There was quite genuine concern you know, when blues parties went on for for days and days and days.
[329] Erm about the risk.
[330] Cos you know, you you're cracking up with the noise, it's quite easy to to er shake your three year old or your
(PS25L) [331] Mhm.
(FY7PS000) [332] Your six month old baby under those sorts of pressures.
(PS25L) [333] [...] blues parties was that Has that been a major problem in the flats?
(FY7PS000) [334] I think it's been a continuing problem in the flats.
[335] Erm it perhaps hasn't been as major as as people might er have thought it should be.
[336] Er people are very very good actually at enduring them and er and taking them in some ways for granted.
[337] So it's part of you know, part of the the penalty if you like, of living in the flats.
[338] Erm there was a cutoff point.
[339] And and certainly when when that was broken, then then people did start to come out publicly and complain.
[340] Er I mean they there were one or two that just went on literally for days and days and days and days.
[341] And that erm led to a lot of people coming down to the probation office, asking, you know, what if anything they could do about the noise up there.
[342] And i in sort of legal terms, I mean there are remedies that you can take against noise.
[343] But they're so long winded erm you know, you you might sort of you might win at the end of the day, but the blues party will have stopped six months ago.
[344] [...] . You get any sort of legal action.
[345] Erm I mean that was quite odd really, we had er quite a few white tenants coming in to one end of the building, erm just saying that, you know, We just can't cope with it any more.
[346] And we had one or two er black lads coming in the other end of the building, saying, We know they've come down here to complain about us, you know, Don't you listen to them, but where else are we supposed to go?
[347] So a lot of sort of tracking to and fro between one end of the office, hoping that the two groups wouldn't meet.
[348] And I suppo I mean all that happened with that particular one was a couple of erm of er black black I think they were youth workers, I'm not actually sure.
[349] But black professionals who had the respect of of the young element in the flats.
[350] Got involved and [...] cooled it down a bit and er and found some of the people some premises, and I think got them some money from Duke of Edinburgh award scheme or something, to buy music music equipment.
[351] But I mean they spring up every summer.
[352] And it's hard you know,Ho How do you deal with it?
[353] I dunno.
[354] No one no one could say that they could endure noise, and it must be awful to live next door to it.
[355] Erm but it is it's it's a it's a cultural it's a cultural issue.
[356] You can't I mean you can't just prosecute it and it will go away.
[357] It's just spring up somewhere else.
(PS25L) [358] Mhm.
(FY7PS000) [359] Lots of suggestions, old cinemas were going to be used as a sort of permanent blues club.
[360] There was an idea of using part of the forest for a an area for blues.
[361] Erm but of course the the other problem was that that blues parties erm were also places where a lot of ganja was smoked.
[362] So you can't actually sort of get a licence to have an all out blues party with ganja.
[363] So it still wasn't gonna meet the actual need that prompted them to occur in the first place.
[364] Er it led to s to trouble at times, but as I say, less trouble than you might imagine.
(PS25L) [365] Mhm.
(FY7PS000) [366] Erm do you know in in the flats, erm [...] different ethnic groups.
[367] What kind of relationship did they have with erm white tenants [...] Has there been much racial tension in the flats or has that been insignificant [...]
(PS25L) [368] I don't think there has.
[369] I think there's been surprisingly little er perhaps it's a slightly romantic notion, but I think it's it's got something to do with, you're all enduring the same kind of misery together.
[370] You know.
[371] It perhaps diffuses and dilute that kind of erm of racial tension from building up.
[372] Erm I mean you know it's sort of there were certainly there were certainly groups of black tenants and white tenants who mixed, and there were certainly groups of of white tenants who wouldn't mix with the black tenants and vice versa.
[373] And here people can operate erm have that sort of segregationist attitudes, but that's not the same as as saying that they had sort of hostile feelings.
[374] Erm no surprisingly little.
(FY7PS000) [375] Do you kn do you know prior to the eighty one disturbances?
(PS25L) [376] Yeah?
(FY7PS000) [377] Erm you were telling me when we had the preliminary interview about erm what happened a few months prior to the disturbances that occurred in the late Summer.
[378] Erm when a car went past.
(PS25L) [379] Yeah that's right.
[380] Cos I happened to be out on Road, when it happened
(FY7PS000) [381] Mhm.
(PS25L) [382] It was just this this car, well it was very quiet, that not much traffic about.
[383] And this car went th right through the through Road.
[384] With all the windows open.
[385] Driving fairly slowly and and shouting erm racist slogans out the window.
[386] But there was also what certainly everyone judged to be a a sawn off shotgun, pointed out one of the back windows.
[387] Erm and [...] I mean the people who saw it, everyone was indignant.
[388] I mean the the white people who saw it were indignant.
[389] And everyone was quite fearful I think about whether sort of outside influences were gonna sort of introduce erm you know race riots inverted commas commas into the area.
[390] Er it was reported to the police and and everyone was a bit dissatisfied.
[391] about the outcome of that.
[392] i mean they did get the guys.
[393] And I think they were charged with something minor like threatening behaviour or breach of the peace, something like that.
[394] Erm it was felt that it warranted something a lot stronger than that.
[395] Er I think the difficulty was, there wasn't much they could charge him with.
[396] Erm some people around, particularly a the Asian population around w then became worried about what sort of support they would actually get from, the police in real terms if outsiders came into the area.
[397] And started to stir up you know, racial hatred.
[398] Erm By that time I mean the there had been lots of problems in other cities.
[399] There had been you know, what was termed incidents resulting from racial tension.
[400] In other areas.
[401] So it was kind of an issue that was felt not to be happening in , but there was fear that it could it could be introduce you know, as I say, from outside.
[402] I mean, a feeling that it it wasn't naturally in the area but it could be stirred up.
[403] By outsiders coming in.
[404] Erm and that's you know I think that's [...] was wasn't an entirely unrealistic fear.
[405] There are always gonna be a a set of [...] of people in any area who erm who will latch on to to racist attitudes and racist acts if if someone comes in waving that as an you know, as an organized activity.
[406] [...] as I say, it was followed I mean it wasn there was no link between the two things.
[407] At least I don't think there was.
[408] But it was followed a few months later by sort of mini riot.
(FY7PS000) [409] Mhm.
[410] So could you tell us a bit about that.
[411] What actually happened when these disturbances took place.
[412] What what sort [...] did it.
[413] Was it a sudden occurrence, was there some kind of build up or
(PS25L) [414] There there was a build up in that I think we we were one of the last towns to have the problem.
[415] I think ours came on the sort of third day of the riot, so you'd already had erm Birmingham going and er i think Bristol as well, had gone by then.
[416] So there was obviously a lot of debate around, you know, Is it going to happen? and if it does happen, well it'll clearly happen in .
[417] Erm i it was strange I know, I can't explain it logically, it was just we we certainly we felt in the office that we would somehow know [...] if and when it was gonna happen.
[418] And that seemed to be a feeling that was er generally shared, well certainly shared by some of the people in the flats.
[419] I mean the first couple of days, we spent a lot of time just trying to cool people down and and stop them panicking and er and stop them going over the top.
[420] Erm but then there there came an afternoon where y y there were little sort of crocodiles of of of mums with prams you know, dragging the kids behind, with the prams loaded up with their sort of precious possessions, heading out of the area.
[421] And if people had relatives living elsewhere, you know, that's what they did, on this particular afternoon.
[422] Erm and it went up that that night.
[423] ... I mean it was it was a very small affair fortunately I think [...] sort of glorifies it too much by giving it giving it the name, riot.
[424] But there was a lot lot of damage done to the shops right down the length of Road.
[425] And just as bad, even worse, in in terms of personal consequences, all the sort of corner shops in , particularly the the Asian off licences come grocers, were were I mean were were just looted.
[426] Not a thing left.
[427] Smashed up, looted.
[428] And a lot of the shopkeepers didn't have any kind of insurance at all.
[429] I mean we had a lot of them are run anyway on credit, there's no real capital lying behind those businesses.
[430] And so they lost everything.
[431] [...] That was it, those particular shopkeepers er didn't didn't start up business again.
(FY7PS000) [432] So they were finished?
(PS25L) [433] They were finished.
[434] Yeah.
[435] And and apparently even now, if you try and get insurance on Road, for your property, erm unless you're prepared to pay a ridiculously high premium, you you can't get it.
[436] It is to the area is still treated differently for insurance terms.
[437] To other parts of the city.
(FY7PS000) [438] So that as a direct result of what happened in eighty one?
(PS25L) [439] Well that's the only thing I can think of.
[440] It was described to to someone who's recently set up a a small restaurant on Road, as being a high risk insurance area.
[441] So er it seems seems likely it's a consequence of that.
[442] Erm I mean one one fact that emerged after the the riots, when the actual arrest figures were were analyzed, was that the vast majority of people who were arrested at any rate, didn't come from the area.
[443] Very very very few came from the local area.
[444] And they came either from other parts of the city, or even from as far away as Birmingham.
[445] So there w there was certainly some element of people like, you know, organizing themselves to come down to , either intent on creating trouble or erm you know,ju just to see what was happening in [...] .
[446] Really not many local people at all involved in it.
[447] And [...] you don't smash up your own nest do you.
[448] I mean you go and smash up somebody else's .
(FY7PS000) [449] Mhm.
[450] So so you're saying that basically it was outsiders who erm
(PS25L) [451] Yeah.
(FY7PS000) [452] were involved in that.
(PS25L) [453] Yeah.
[454] It was.
(FY7PS000) [455] Erm and [...] and you said in the preliminary interview, the fact that there was some people who actually who lived in the flats who said quite am said quite clearly, this is not the time to
(PS25L) [456] That's right.
[457] It was a very disturbing erm letter that that arrived at some flats, that was from Birmingham.
[458] Erm i it was sent to to known known very radical black activists.
[459] Erm
(FY7PS000) [460] Mhm.
(PS25L) [461] certainly it was assumed that there was some kind of organized network
(FY7PS000) [462] Mm.
[463] Right.
(PS25L) [464] behind it.
[465] But it was it was from the bosses if you like, in Birmingham, saying, Don't get involved in this, this is a small scale skirmish, cos this this is not the time.
[466] And er you know, the instruction was, keep your guns in the cupboard for now.
[467] Erm and that that was very disturbing, not many people knew about that letter, and certainly it wasn't something that the that the probation staff who saw it, erm told anybody about.
[468] Er apart from the police, I think the police were made aware of the letter.
[469] Erm a and we you know we kept wondering afterwards, Well when is it gonna be now?
[470] Because there there were guns up in the flats.
[471] There may still be guns hidden in flats.
[472] And touch wood nothing's happened and hopefully nothing will.
(FY7PS000) [473] Mhm.
[474] Do you [...]
(PS25L) [475] [...] was okay cos you knew there was some heavy heavy organized er guys up there, who who had ammunition and who had had had they felt differently that [...] time, I guess the guns would have come and the police station would have been attacked.
[476] Although it was bombed at one stage.
(FY7PS000) [477] You say [...] when did that happen?
(PS25L) [478] [laughing] I can't remember [] it was it wasn't very dramatic .
(FY7PS000) [479] [...] actually.
[480] Who was actually who was actually [...] who was actually involved, was that the an individual or group or
(PS25L) [481] I d I really don't know I I really don't know enough about it.
[482] I can't A few people were charged with it.
[483] I mean it was something fairly minor, a petrol bomb or something like that.
[484] Was chucked at the police station.
[485] Didn't do a lot of damage.
[486] But of course you've now got the modern police station you know.
[487] Sort of thing.
[488] The cameras on the top.
[489] More or less you see them coming a mile off now.
[490] Erm No I can't remember enough about it.
[491] As I say it w wasn't a very dramatic incident.
(FY7PS000) [492] Mhm.
(PS25L) [493] Or it di didn't seem to be received in the area as as being a [...]
(FY7PS000) [494] Mhm.
[495] Erm going back to erm to the disturbances that did ta took place in nineteen eighty one.
[496] Did they have any lasting impact on people in the flats or w was it quickly forgotten. [...]
(PS25L) [497] I think the
(FY7PS000) [...]
(PS25L) [498] Sorry.
(FY7PS000) [499] I think before you spoke about the the the fact that erm what happened with the the [...] that was erm.
(PS25L) [500] Oh yeah.
[501] I think it was
(FY7PS000) [502] Did that have did that have quite an impact in terms of the disturbances?
(PS25L) [503] Actually I don't think it did have quite such an impact.
[504] Partly because, compared with the national picture, as i say, it was a very very small disruption.
[505] And er if you look at what happened in Birmingham, it was nowhere near that sort of scale.
[506] And also I think because a lot of publicity erm was given to to the actual arrest figures, and to the fact that they didn't come from the local area.
[507] And and that was given higher coverage by the press.
[508] So people were sort of you know, exonerated if you like, from their involvement in it.
[509] And like it led again, to people [...] I'm sure, people wanting to get out.
[510] And led [...] to increased instability in the in in the population in the flats.
[511] Erm it led again to questions of of policing, being of paramount importance.
[512] And certainly af after the riots, they were always erm [...] couple of days, perhaps longer than that where erm local policemen would be up on the walkways, playing football with the local kids.
[513] And they were always very cheerful and waving chatting away.
[514] The police and the and the tenants.
[515] Erm but that you know that that didn't carry on much more than a few days after the the initial disturbances.
[516] Erm there there were quite a few interesting debates that that came up about policing after the riots, I mean [...] initially it was the fact that you didn't see any policemen in the flats at all.
[517] Erm after the riots, the debate seemed to get much more complicated.
[518] I mean there were there were still quite a lot of tenants who wanted to see police patrolling in twos and threes, through the complex.
[519] But there were also a lot of people who felt that the presence of er of police in twos and threes, actually inflamed problems in the flats rather than cooled them down.
[520] Er and one had to have sympathy w with the police who who's response was, Well you t you tell us what's the right thing to do.
[521] I mean [...] either we're not there or there's too many of us there.
[522] Erm fights after after blues parties, certainly seemed to sort themselves out.
[523] Erm I mean maybe maybe not to the good of the participants.
[524] Er there were a couple of times when the police were called and actually turned up, and and what people believed would have been a minor fight, then developed into a you know a major skirmish.
[525] Involving you know just eight or nine people.
[526] And it was that kind of debate that that went on the last few years.
[527] How do you police erm an area sensitively.
[528] Erm [...] the debate still goes on.
[529] When they shut the , the the debate sort of shifted to outside the law centre.
[530] Funnily enough.
[531] Because the was er was a well known hive of erm less than pleasant activities.
[532] Heavy drug dealing and and heavy heavy pimping.
[533] And there's also the pub where the police, the police always knew they could find who they wanted in the .
[534] And if they couldn't find them there they had a number of informers in the .
[535] Who would er tell them what they wanted to know.
[536] When the was shut, some of the these from the came to the just across the road.
[537] Erm and a lot of them, straddled themselves out on the pavement erm in groups of s thirty, forty people along Avenue.
[538] And again residents around here, contacting the police, being very concerned about their safety etcetera.
[539] At that stage, the police's response was, if we come in, we'll we'll stir it up.
[540] So they they didn't they kept to their .
[541] It was a very hard judgement to make. [break in recording]
(FY7PS000) [542] Erm ... the f the first thing er first of two things that we said we'd look at just now were erm the kind of work that you did erm with clients in the flats.
[543] The kind of problems that they had.
[544] And how [...] .
(PS25L) [545] Yes I suppose that perhaps there are two ways of approaching that question.
(FY7PS000) [546] Mhm.
(PS25L) [547] The first is to just describe briefly the sort of range of offences committed by people who happen
(FY7PS000) [548] Mhm.
(PS25L) [549] to live in the flats.
[550] And then, secondly t to just sort of mention the erm perhaps the more traditional ways of of working with people once they've been sent to you by the courts.
[551] You know having been labelled
(FY7PS000) [552] Mhm.
(PS25L) [553] as an offender.
[554] Erm I think I I probably outlined in in the previous interview, erm the range of offences, but but very briefly, it was everything from fairly minor trivial offences, erm prostitution, shoplifting, petty theft.
[555] Er through to quite a lot of of violent crime.
[556] Er street muggings, through to armed robbery.
[557] And also of course a lot of crimes that had their that were basically crimes of domestic violence.
[558] Or family disputes, A B Hs, assaults, grievous bodily harm.
[559] Erm going right through to a er a murder o on one occasion.
[560] So that crime the full range of crime you know,wh was displayed by some people living in the flats.
[561] Erm all those I've mentioned before I think the number of of people who were convicted of petty offences, and maybe had never offended af before and didn't offend ever again, was probably quite high.
[562] Offence induced by, stress, poverty,
(FY7PS000) [563] Mhm.
(PS25L) [564] inability to find a way out of the financial tangle that they were in.
[565] Lot of shop lifting was for that reason.
[566] A lot of prostitution was for that reason.
[567] And some people are very unfortunate and get caught first time.
[568] Others do it dozens of time and never get caught, but that's another story.
[569] So it was a full range of offences and I mean there isn't a typical way of working with a typical kind of offence.
[570] Erm part of the probation officers job if you like, is to hopefully with the cl [recording ends]