The London Riots Ten Years On - a study in Crisis Management
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The London Riots Ten Years On - a study in Crisis Management

Ten Years On, The London Riots

Ten years ago saw the beginning of a dark, difficult but mercifully short period in London’s history with civil unrest on the streets of London. I still have vivid memories of the events and my involvement in them.

I had attended riots and civil unrest as a firefighter in 1985 in Brixton. Trying to put out fires whilst people were throwing bricks, bottles and anything else they could find at us was an experience I hoped I’d never undergo again. It felt as if the public had turned against us.

However the experience and learning from that period was to stand me in good stead 26 years later.

In 2011 it all started in Tottenham on Saturday 6th August following the fatal shooting of a man the day before by armed police in Tottenham. The mood in the area grew steadily worse until on the Saturday night it descended into ugly scenes with numerous fires started over an area about a mile long. I was off duty that weekend but was alerted to it and kept a watching brief via both television and via my Fire Service personal radio. The fires raged well into Sunday morning.
Sunday daytime was relatively peaceful until disorder again broke out that evening in Tottenham and also in Brixton in South West London.

Monday dawned and I was back at work and spent most of the day in meetings and making phone calls to colleagues in the other emergency services trying to get my situational awareness up as well as gather intelligence about the likelihood of further unrest. This was part of my remit as Head of Special Operations Group in London Fire Brigade and I had very good working relationships with Met Police, London Ambulance Service and Local Authority colleagues in London as well as with colleagues in government departments; Department for Communities and Local Government, Home Office, Department of Health and Cabinet Office. The feeling was that the civil unrest/rioting was likely to continue.

I had an excellent team around me and between us we made sure that we were fully apprised of the situation and were well prepared to deal with further unrest if it arose. By late afternoon/ early evening that day, unrest and rioting had broken out in Hackney and Peckham (East and South East London respectively).
A couple of Fire Service colleagues had had their cars damaged by rioters throwing things at them when they arrived on scene – neither was hurt but it served as a reminder to everyone about the dangers ahead.
I went home that evening and grabbed some dinner whilst watching events unfolding on tv, I was now in constant contact with my team and other emergency services colleagues and knew that it was going to be a very difficult evening.
I knew what the priorities were – public and responder safety, prevent fire spread and assist in a return to normality – and in just about every phone call I had, I either verbally or mentally ticked each of these off. These priorities were framework for decision making.

I was watching the scenes unfolding in Croydon as my pager went off, I was being ordered to take charge of a large fire in a furniture store at Reeves Corner in Croydon. I contacted the London Fire Brigade control room, got a brief about the incident and asked for all the other officers attending to meet me at the nearby fire station before going to the incident. I was acutely aware that we would all be travelling alone and I wanted to get everyone to a safe place for a quick brief before travelling together to the actual scene. I also decided to change out of my fire service uniform (white shirt and black trousers very similar to the police) and into a tee-shirt and jeans and carry my Fire Service ID card.

On my way to the fire station rendezvous point, I was stopped by an armed police officer who told me to make a detour as there was potentially an armed suspect in the locality I was driving through. Although this particular incident was thought to be nothing to do with the riots, it only served to heighten my awareness of the threat that we might face.

I met up with my command team and we all travelled in my car the last mile or so to the incident. We arrived at the scene - there was a very serious fire in progress the air was thick with smoke and fumes and the firefighters were all working hard . As incident commander I was focused on just two priorities – safety of public and responders and preventing further fire spread. The initial crews had performed magnificently, rescuing a number of people from nearby properties and searching others to make sure that no-one was left in any danger. Nearby buildings were catching fire due to radiated heat so water jets and sprays were used to protect these – we knew that the place where the fire started was lost as it had got too much of a hold – pretty much the whole building was alight. By normal standards the incident was under resourced, just eight pumps when we needed double that amount and because we had no Command Unit ( a mobile hub with communications equipment and the ability to map out the scene for situational awareness) I had to command using very basic methods – my senses, my personal radio and my pointing finger. It was quite liberating in a strange sort of way.
The police did a good job of protecting us to let us get on with our work – I had a public order cop (trained in dealing with riots and civil unrest and wearing specialist protective equipment, carrying a riot shield) with me initially and he kept me informed about the police view of things. Just as we were starting to make headway with the firefighting, the cop informed me that he had to withdraw the public order team protecting us as they were needed elsewhere in Croydon. It seems that the rioters were using mobile phones to communicate with each other and moving around in small gangs to loot shops and start fires before moving on to another location.
The cop managed to get some police officers to protect us but those police had little protection themselves. I decided to move the fire appliances to park across all the access roads to the scene so that we had some physical safety in place to protect the responders.

At one part a group of around ten to fifteen people all wearing masks or covering their faces – some carrying lumps of wood – stood watching us. They moved on following a conversation with the police.

I was also in constant communication with the Gold Command Team (the executive team) from London Fire Brigade who were giving me a London wide overview of incidents and resources. I was aware that a significant fire was in progress at a Sony Warehouse in Enfield and that the unrest was spreading very quickly to other parts of London.
By now, my mobile phone was in meltdown – I had already recharged it once and I now had to use my spare battery – I had learned from previous experience that these are the little things that can catch you out in a crisis.
I needed my communications but I simply couldn’t service all the calls I was receiving so I prioritised them and only made and received calls when necessary.

As we were starting to get the fires under control, I was introduced to Trevor Reeves - his family owned the store and it had been a family business since 1867. I will never forget him; despite the obvious shock and trauma of seeing his store burned to the ground he wanted to thank the firefighters for what they had done which was incredibly thoughtful of him. I was able to show him that we had saved a second store owned by his family very close by - it had sustained some heat damage to the outside but we had stopped the fire from spreading to the inside. He managed to reopen this store around three to four weeks later.

Once all the public had been rescued/evacuated and the fires were no longer likely to spread, I downgraded the incident, handed it over to another officer and left.

Almost immediately I was ordered to attend another large fire, this time in Clapham. I didn’t use my blue light and two tone horns until well away from any unrest so nobody noticed a guy in a tee shirt and jeans driving through Croydon and I was untroubled.
Despite everything that was happening the areas outside the rioting were very quiet and I was able to switch on my twos and blues and make good progress – turning them off again once I was within half a mile of the scene.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Clapham Junction was the debris strewn over the street – mobile phone boxes, shoe boxes, trainers and clothes mostly.
The fire was in some four storey buildings – shops on the ground floor with flats above – and it was raging. Firefighters were again undertaking rescues and evacuating the public and there was some water from an aerial appliance (a cherry picker if you like) preventing fire spread at roof level and to one side with water jets on the other side trying to prevent any further lateral spread.
This time I did have a Command Unit on site so I ran the incident from there ably supported by an excellent command team and outstanding firefighters - again they all went the extra mile physically working incredibly hard to get the blaze under control.
Once again the resources were well below the number we would usually have had for this incident had it occurred during normal circumstances. The firefighters made great progress with the search and rescue of people in the flats above the shops however the fire was still spreading to other shops and flats. I was contacted by the Gold Command Team and asked to release some firefighters and fire appliances as London Fire Brigade resources were beginning to get stretched.
I was concerned that the situation at my incident was not yet under control so I asked for a grace period of an hour so that I could alter the plan and then release some crews which was granted. My command team worked with me to produce a new plan which we put into place and duly released the resources.

Once again, liaison with the police on scene was excellent and they were able to give us a safe area within which to do our job. The rioting in Clapham was not as extensive as it was in Croydon so there were more police available to protect us. We held very brief multi-agency meetings with police and ambulance crews every hour or so covering off those three strategic priorities and assessing what resources we needed over the coming hour.

Once we had confirmed that all the people in the flats were safe and the fire was under control, I again downgraded the incident handed over command and left only to be ordered back to Croydon again.
This time we had a whole row of shops and flats alight and it was clear that the fire had taken a complete hold on the entire block, fortunately all the people were safe.
One fire appliance had been attacked and had sustained damage and one firefighter had sustained minor injuries – this did not deter the crews at all and they continued in their efforts to prevent the fire from spreading further.

By now the firefighters and officers were very weary and although all the firefighting took place from outside the building (I was worried about the building collapsing and we couldn’t get any building surveyors out until later that morning) I was really concerned that an accident or an injury could occur as all the firefighters had been working hard for a very extended period. Some local shopkeepers and residents had kindly provided the crews with some water and food (we usually had the Salvation Army canteen van on site at big incidents but for obvious reasons, that was not an option) so they were able to take short breaks and take on fluid but that was not enough, they needed rest.

So, back to the priorities, my first job was to get some relief crews and officers in, though of course no-one on duty that night had had any real rest.

Once the relief crews were in place and the external firefighting plan was actioned, it was finally a chance for me to catch my breath and I suddenly realised how tired I was (it was around 7 am on Tuesday morning by now I had been awake and working since 6 am the previous day).

I decided to request a relief for myself to arrive after the new shift had started at 8 am, having done this I was then approached by a BBC Breakfast news reporter asking for a live interview.
I decided to do it and I think it went well – my main message was that the emergency services in London work well together and had well-rehearsed plans for these types of event/incident. Unfortunately, I forgot that I hadn’t shaved in over 24 hours so I looked a bit unkempt but I hope that that did not detract from the message.

I went home and got a few hours sleep before being called to a multi-agency strategic meeting to discuss the clean up operation and return to normality. It was great to see that residents and shop owners in Clapham Junction had gone about the job themselves and had helped to clean and board up the area.

Sadly, the unrest spread to other parts of the UK though thankfully it had petered out by the end of the week. The criminal justice system and the police worked really hard to bring the perpetrators to justice very quickly and I suspect that that prevented further outbreaks along with some great work by community leaders.

That night, over ten years ago saw the very best and the very worst of human nature and it will be forever etched on my memory along with the pride that I still feel for being able to work with such dedicated, professional people.

Values centred recruitment


Recruitment of staff is one of the most important decisions a company or organisation can make; Get it right and the money spent on the recruitment process and in inducting and developing the successful people will deliver a good return. Get it wrong and not only is that money wasted, it can cost you money when the person exits the organisation. I have been involved in recruitment processes for a number of years, in both the private and public sector and I thought I’d share a success story in terms of recruitment.

I have been the Chair of Trustees at an Outstanding (Ofsted rating) school for over ten years years, during that time I have overseen the processes for the recruitment of two Headteachers and been involved in the recruitment of two Deputy Headteachers. All of these appointments have been successful with the chosen person adding real value to the leadership of the school.

How did we do that?

Firstly, we agreed that the person we wanted had to demonstrate values and behaviours that were in line with the values and ethos of the school so, recruiting for personal values became the key principle. Our rationale being that, as long as the person had the minimum qualifications required for the post then anything else could be gained via training and development – personal values are much harder (some say impossible) to train and develop as they come from within.

Secondly, we agreed that the key stakeholders should take part in the process – in this case we involved the children and the staff in the assessment exercises.

Lastly, we agreed that if, after all the assessments, we felt that none of the applicants were a good fit then we would not appoint and would re-advertise. I am amazed at how often I hear people talk of appointing someone who they had doubts about when that person proves their doubts to be correct.

The children, staff and trustees were involved in helping to write the advertisements this is what they came up with:

Our children would like a Head Teacher who:

· Values children’s opinions.

· Is firm but kind and sets clear boundaries

· Is a good and courageous leader

· Wants the children to be happy at school and have fun

Our staff and trustees want a Head Teacher who:

· is an inspirational leader with a track record of improving outcomes for children;

· has a demonstrable commitment to excellence and continues to build on successes;

· is approachable and values, encourages and nurtures the development of all school staff;

· has empathy with the staff and helps them to strike a good work/life balance;

· leads by example and goes the ‘extra mile’ for the staff and children;

· exhibits and encourages best practice in the classroom;

· believes in providing a rounded education of pupils through sport, the arts and other activities;

· brings in their own experience to take the school from strength to strength;

· has high expectations of themselves and others and leads the school’s professional learning community with enthusiasm;

· fosters close links between home, school and the local community and has a genuinely inclusive approach.

I don’t think any external consultant could have come up with a better and more fitting list.

The first phase was the application form – we wanted more than just a list of statements and wanted examples of where the applicant had achieved some of the above. This process gave us our shortlist.

We also involved the children, staff and trustees in some of the exercises at the assessment centre and took their feedback into account when making the final decisions.

The children in particular showed an amazing ability to sum up their thoughts and feelings succinctly.

On two occasions we decided not to appoint and started the process again, widening the criteria so that more people could apply.

Whilst I wouldn’t say that we got everything right first time, we are committed to continuous learning and with each iteration we tweaked and changed things and got the right person.

I firmly believe that this was well worth the effort and the results bear that out.

I wonder how many other organisations get their key stakeholders involved in their recruitment?

Post Pandemic Planning - Are you Ready?


The welcome news of a Covid vaccine means that there is finally some light at the end of the Covid tunnel. Whilst there is still some distance left to run in terms of the pandemic and it’s affects, it looks as though there will be a return to some sort of normality in 2021.

How ready is your business for that return? Have you started planning for it or are you still taking each day as it comes?

Whilst there are a lot of unknowns, I believe that planning needs to start now if it hasn’t already to map out the future that you want for your organisation or business.

For example, if you have some staff working remotely and some staff working in an office how will they work together in the future? Will the current arrangements continue? If not, how will you bring all the staff back together again – do you need to do some teambuilding?

Is the current organisational structure the right one for the future? Does it support the business strategy?

Questions, questions…..

This period of planning does offer a chance to reset or reimagine your business – maybe even change the culture within your company if such a change is needed.

If you find thinking about the future a bit daunting, here’s a simple five step plan that may help:

1. Revisit your business strategy – or write one if you do not have one in place. Everything you do should flow from that. The strategy should be a simple one that you can track and measure but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim high.

2. Once your strategy is written, think about the processes and structures you will need to deliver it. These are the key pillars on which your strategy will stand.

3. Make a plan – this will help you to make the necessary steps in the right order.

4. Implement – the first step is often the toughest so look for quick early wins to help build momentum

5. Evaluate your progress all along the way so that you can address any emerging issues before they become too difficult.

Alongside this consider your organisational or business culture – will it support your strategy or undermine it?

I have worked with and led some brilliant teams who achieved far more together than any of us expected, I have also worked with some teams who are very divided and are not at all cohesive. Addressing team culture and cultural change can be tricky but not impossible.

If you want to know more please feel free to get in touch. Together we can move mountains.

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  • Most of our sites have ‘breadcrumbs’ on the top of each page which allow you to retrace your steps and go back to where you started. However, older sites may not have this facility so you may need to use the ‘Back’ button on your browser. Back buttons are usually on the top left hand corner of your browser. By simply clicking on this button you can retrace your steps through the pages you have already viewed on our website. Some keyboards also have a Back Button as part of their options.

General Accessibility.

  • This website conforms to the WCAG 2.0 four principles of accessibility and so is: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust
  • The original designers, Access by Design, have considered the full range of techniques, including the advisory techniques, as well as to seeking relevant advice about current best practice to ensure that this web content is accessible, as far as possible, to all communities.
  • This website has been thoroughly tested on multiple browsers, platforms and devices
  • This website has been tested using multiple automated accessibility testing software
  • This website has been tested by a REAL person with a disability who tested the website and submitted a report to the original designers who then used it to improve accessibility further.

Web Standards

  • All CSS and XHTML created by this website validate to the document type.
    Validation does not equal accessibility.
  • If a page on this website does not validate it is almost always because a third-party ‘plug-in’ has needed to be employed.
  • Although we try to use only accessible third-parties and we alert designers to accessibility issues, rectifying them is beyond our control
  • We reserve the right to use the web standards CSS and XHML buttons on this website as all elements within our control validate correctly.

Please Note: although this website was designed and built by a company specialising in accessible websites, it is run by us. We are not experts on web accessibility ourselves and sometimes mistakes can happen. If you find an accessibility error, please alert us as soon as possible, using the contact email address on this website, telling us the nature of the problem so that we can fix it.

Further Help

You may wish to download “Browsealoud”. This is a FREE speech reader that enables you to listen rather than read our website. Browsealoud may be helpful to people with dyslexia, those who find reading difficult, those who have a mild visual impairment or those who just like to do more than one thing at a time!

WC3 WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and W.A.G 2.0

To be considered to be Priority 1 (A) standard a website should meet all of the following points.

  • This website provides a text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content). This includes: images, graphical representations of text (including symbols), image map regions, animations (e.g., animated GIFs), applets and programmatic objects, ascii art, frames, scripts, images used as list bullets, spacers, graphical buttons, sounds (played with or without user interaction), stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video, and video. (1.0)
  • This website provides text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  • This website ensures that all information conveyed with colour is also available without colour, for example from context or markup. (1.0)
  • This website clearly identifies changes in the natural language of a document’s text and any text equivalents (e.g., captions). (1.0)
  • This website may be read without style sheets; when an HTML document is rendered without associated style sheets, it is still be possible to read the document. (1.0)
  • This website ensures that equivalents for dynamic content are updated when the dynamic content changes. (1.0)
  • This website avoids causing the screen to flicker. (1.0)
  • This website uses the clearest and simplest language appropriate for its content.
  • This website does not use image maps(1.0)
  • This website does not use tables(1.0)
  • This website does not use frames(1.0)
  • This websitedoes not use multimedia(1.0)
    • This website has 1 area that is sadly, still inaccessible to some users. (1.0)
      • After our best efforts, we have not been able to create an accessible page for the Social Networking buttons. Please see the bottom of this page for alternatives.
      • Pages on this website are still usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or not supported. If this is not possible, this website provides equivalent information on an alternative accessible page. (1.0)
      • Programmatic elements such as scripts are directly accessible and compatible with assistive technologies (1.0)

This website passes Priority 1 (A) Accessibility.

Priority 2 checkpoints

To be considered to be Priority 2 (AA) standard, a website should meet all of the following points;

  • This website ensures that the foreground and background colour combinations in images provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone having colour deficits or when viewed on a black and white screen. (1.0)
  • When an appropriate markup language exists, this website uses usesmarkup rather than images to convey information. (1.0)
  • This website documents validate to published formal grammars. (1.0)
  • This website uses style sheets to control layout and presentation. (1.0)
  • This website uses relative rather than absolute units in markup language attribute values and style sheet property values. (1.0)
  • This website uses header elements to convey document structure and uses them according to specification. (1.0)
  • This website marks up lists and list items properly. (1.0)
  • This website marks up quotations and does not use quotation markup for formatting effects such as indentation. (1.0)
    This website ensures that dynamic content is accessible (or provides an alternative presentation or page only when no other option is possible). (1.0)
  • Until user agents allow users to control blinking, this website avoids causing content to blink (i.e., change presentation at a regular rate, such as turning on and off). (1.0)
  • Until user agents provide the ability to stop the refresh, this website does not use periodically auto-refreshing pages. (1.0)
  • Until user agents provide the ability to stop auto-redirect, this website does not use markup to redirect pages automatically. (If redirects are needed they are configures via the server) (1.0)
  • Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, this website does not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and does not change the current window without informing the user. (1.0)

Please note: this website uses ‘highslide’, a JavaScript technique to give the appearance of a pop-up window to preview links or content. However, highslide is NOT a pop-up, the JavaScript can be disabled (and the link will still work) and is for graphic purposes only.

  • The website uses W3C technologies when they are available and appropriate for a task and uses the latest versions when supported. (1.0)
  • This website avoids deprecated features of W3C technologies. (1.0)
  • This website divides large blocks of information into more manageable groups where natural and appropriate. (1.0)
  • This website does not identify the target of each link because it is written in XHTML 1.0 Strict
  • This website provides metadata to add semantic information to pages and sites. (1.0)
  • This website provides information about the general layout of a site (e.g., a site map). (1.0)
  • This website uses navigation mechanisms in a consistent manner. (1.0)
  • Tables are not used for layout. (1.0)
  • Until user agents support explicit associations between labels and form controls, all form controls are combined with implicitly associated labels and the label is properly positioned. (1.0)
  • Form labels are explicitly associated with their controls. (1.0)
  • Event handlers used in scripts are input device-independent. (1.0)
  • Until user agents allow users to freeze moving content, this website avoids movement in pages. If movement is present it can be instantly and easily stopped or blocked. (1.0)
  • Programmatic elements such as scripts are directly accessible and compatible with assistive technologies (1.0)
  • Any element that has its own interface can be operated in a device-independent manner. (1.0)
  • When using scripts, this website specifies logical event handlers rather than device-dependent event handlers. (1.0)

This website passes Priority 2 (AA) Accessibility.

Priority 3 checkpoints

  • This website ensures that the foreground and background colour combinations in text provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone having colour deficits or when viewed on a black and white screen. (1.0)
  • This website specifies the expansion of each abbreviation or acronym in a document where it first occurs. (1.0)
  • This website identifies the primary natural language of a document. (1.0)
  • This website provides keyboard shortcuts (such as jump menus) to important links (including those in client-side image maps), form controls, and groups of form controls. (1.0)
  • Until user agents (including assistive technologies) render adjacent links distinctly, this website includes non-link, printable characters (surrounded by spaces) between adjacent links. (1.0)
  • This website provides information so that users may receive documents according to their preferences (e.g., language, content type, etc.) (1.0)
  • This website provides navigation bars to highlight and give access to the navigation mechanism
  • This website groups related links, identifies the group (for user agents), and, until user agents do so, provides a way to bypass the group. (1.0)
  • This site enables different types of searches for different skill levels and preferences. These might include a search box, site maps and content ‘tagging’(1.0)
  • This website places distinguishing information at the beginning of headings, paragraphs, lists, etc. (1.0)
  • This website does not use ASCII ART
  • This website supplements text with graphic or auditory presentations where they will facilitate comprehension of the page. (1.0)
  • This website uses a style of presentation that is consistent across pages. (1.0)
  • This website now refers to the new WC WCAG 2.0 guidelines and does NOT include default, place-holding characters in edit boxes and text areas in forms as user agents ARE now able to handle empty controls correctly. (1.0)

This website passes Priority 3 (AAA) Accessibility.

Accessibility Problems?

This website may have the following minor access problems/issues. These are explained here and alternatives given.

  • This site does not use meta access keys (sometimes called ‘hot keys’). Our research suggest that these are actually detrimental to most keyboard-users as they already have their own keys set up which are then overwritten or confused by websites (who do not use a consistent approach). We will review this decision periodically and if research proves otherwise (or technology improves) we will resume these techniques.
  • This site may fail validation on third-party technologies. This is because we have little or no ability to recode these to meet our high accessibly standards. However, we always aim to use plug-ins that are either accessible, increase the accessibility or have simple accessible alternatives. If forced to choose between accessibility features and validation, we have taken the difficult decision to always choose accessibility.

Acceptable Use Policy

This acceptable use policy sets out the terms between you and us under which you may access our website. This acceptable use policy applies to all users of, and visitors to, our site.

Your use of our site means that you accept, and agree to abide by, all the policies in this acceptable use policy, which supplement our terms of website use (available on this website under the Legal section).

This website is a site operated by the company named on this website. All relevant company details and regulatory authorities are on this website.

Prohibited uses

You may use our site only for lawful purposes. You may not use our site:

  • In any way that breaches any applicable local, national or international law or regulation.
  • In any way that is unlawful or fraudulent, or has any unlawful or fraudulent purpose or effect.
  • For the purpose of harming or attempting to harm minors in any way.
  • To send, knowingly receive, upload, download, use or re-use any material which does not comply with our content standards below.
  • To transmit, or procure the sending of, any unsolicited or unauthorised advertising or promotional material or any other form of similar solicitation (spam).
  • To knowingly transmit any data, send or upload any material that contains viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time-bombs, keystroke loggers, spyware, adware or any other harmful programs or similar computer code designed to adversely affect the operation of any computer software or hardware.

You also agree:

  • Not to reproduce, duplicate, copy or re-sell any part of our site in contravention of the provisions of our terms of website use (available on this website under the Legal section).
  • Not to access without authority, interfere with, damage or disrupt:
  • any part of our site;
  • any equipment or network on which our site is stored;
  • any software used in the provision of our site; or
  • any equipment or network or software owned or used by any third party.

Interactive services

We may from time to time provide interactive services on our site, including, without limitation:

  • Chat rooms.
  • Bulletin boards.
  • Blogs

Where we do provide any interactive service, we will provide clear information to you about the kind of service offered, if it is moderated and what form of moderation is used (including whether it is human or technical).

We will do our best to assess any possible risks for users (and in particular, for children) from third parties when they use any interactive service provided on our site, and we will decide in each case whether it is appropriate to use moderation of the relevant service (including what kind of moderation to use) in the light of those risks. However, we are under no obligation to oversee, monitor or moderate any interactive service we provide on our site, and we expressly exclude our liability for any loss or damage arising from the use of any interactive service by a user in contravention of our content standards, whether the service is moderated or not.

The use of any of our interactive services by a minor is subject to the consent of their parent or guardian. We advise parents who permit their children to use an interactive service that it is important that they communicate with their children about their safety online, as moderation is not foolproof. Minors who are using any interactive service should be made aware of the potential risks to them.

Where we do moderate an interactive service, we will normally provide you with a means of contacting the moderator, should a concern or difficulty arise.

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit and the letter of the following standards. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

  • Be accurate (where they state facts).
  • Be genuinely held (where they state opinions).
  • Comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

  • Contain any material which is defamatory of any person.
  • Contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory.
  • Promote sexually explicit material.
  • Promote violence.
  • Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.
  • Infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person.
  • Be likely to deceive any person.
  • Be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence.
  • Promote any illegal activity.
  • Be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.
  • Be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person.
  • Be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person.
  • Give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case.
  • Advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Suspension and termination

We will determine, in our discretion, whether there has been a breach of this acceptable use policy through your use of our site. When a breach of this policy has occurred, we may take such action as we deem appropriate.

Failure to comply with this acceptable use policy constitutes a material breach of the terms of use (available on this website under the Legal section) upon which you are permitted to use our site, and may result in our taking all or any of the following actions:

  • Immediate, temporary or permanent withdrawal of your right to use our site.
  • Immediate, temporary or permanent removal of any posting or material uploaded by you to our site.
  • Issue of a warning to you.
  • Legal proceedings against you for reimbursement of all costs on an indemnity basis (including, but not limited to, reasonable administrative and legal costs) resulting from the breach.
  • Further legal action against you.
  • Disclosure of such information to law enforcement authorities as we reasonably feel is necessary.

We exclude liability for actions taken in response to breaches of this acceptable use policy. The responses described in this policy are not limited, and we may take any other action we reasonably deem appropriate.

Changes to the acceptable use policy

We may revise this acceptable use policy at any time by amending this page. You are expected to check this page from time to time to take notice of any changes we make, as they are legally binding on you. Some of the provisions contained in this acceptable use policy may also be superseded by provisions or notices published elsewhere on our site.

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