Mob violence came to the streets of Paulsgrove as a demonstration against a ‘named and shamed’ paedophile turned into a riot. Hundreds of people had arrived in Allaway Avenue, many of them mothers with toddlers or babes-in-arms to taunt the man. In the time it took for the first banners to appear, the protest turned into ugly and unforgettable scenes. Firefighters had to tackle a car blaze behind shops in Allaway Avenue which had been set alight while protesters gathered outside flats where the alleged paedophile was thought to live.
Later that week, Hampshire police vowed to return peace to the streets.
In their quest to return law and order to the streets of Paulsgrove, the police had faced fury from a community in uproar.
One police officer suffered a broken nose when a missile smashed into his face. Plenty more came face-to-face with a tirade of threats and abuse from protesters.
Yet frontline officers had a steely determination that ‘firm but fair’ policing would restore peace to the streets which had threatened the safety of many innocent residents.
Dressed in fire-proof overalls and heavy boots and drawn from stations throughout Hampshire, they gathered for a meeting in Cosham.
Superintendent Bob Golding, Paulsgrove’s police commander, said: ‘Our officers have come up against the most appalling levels of verbal abuse.
‘It’s a case of: enough is enough.’