Violence in Nottingham

The Bishop of Southwell's letter
31st July 2002

I attach a copy of the letter which the Bishop of Southwell, the Moderator of the East Midlands Region of the United Reformed Church and other city centre clergy signed at the end of last week.

I hope that you will find the contents helpful, and if you are supportive of the move to engage all parts of the community in the debate about the underlying causes of the problems currently facing Nottingham, and what can be done about them, that you will indicate that. Our hope is to arrange a round table discussion early in the autumn with representatives of as many community groups and agencies as we can.

There are no simplistic answers, and many of the issues relate to the nature of modem city culture. That cannot just change overnight. But by engaging all parts of the community we might be able to uncover some strategic thinking which will both support the police in their difficult task and also recognise our common responsibility for the environment in which we live, as well as coming with some practical ideas that could help the immediate situation.

As Christian leaders in Nottingham we would like to express our growing concern at the rising level of violence and violent crime that we are witnessing in our city.

Nottingham is a city to be proud of. It is a good place to live for people of all ages and backgrounds. Many agencies, statutory, voluntary and commercial are working hard to continue its development, and there are exciting and imaginative plans coming forward that will ensure that it is one of the top cities in Europe for many years to come. We delight in that, and offer our support to those who bear the responsibility for forwarding and overseeing those plans.

However, there is a parallel trend that is deeply disturbing. We feel challenged to address this serious issue of the rapid rise in violence that has been focussed this past week on a number of unrelated incidents involving the use of firearms. Over the past months the situation in Nottingham has received national publicity. First we heard that police patrols in some areas of the city were now regularly armed; then the news broke that Nottingham had come second behind London in the number of recorded violent crimes in 2001. During the World Cup we became aware of a succession of disturbances in the city that tested police resources, and created much ill feeling in the city. We know that, for many people, the City Centre on any normal Friday or Saturday night can be a threatening place, and that many people will not venture into the city for their entertainment for that reason.

The spate of incidents over this past weeks, however, which include a number of gun related incidents, must take our concern to another level. Many cities in the United States of America are being destroyed by 'gun law'. We cannot allow that 'randomness of brutality', as one of our MPs described it this week, to drag our city down the same way.

As well as expressing our concern and support for the police in their difficult task, therefore, we wish to challenge all those who are in a position to address the current situation to exercise their influence urgently. We include ourselves in that challenge, and we look not just to the criminal justice system and the civic authorities, but much more widely to parents, to schools, to the universities, to politicians, to those who run licensed premises, to all working in the various communities of our city, to join together to defeat this evil which leaves nothing but fear, tragedy and destruction in its wake. The future of our city as a good place to live relies on us getting to the root of the problem now.

Bishop George

List of signatories to Bishop of Southwell's letter
  • The Right Revd. George Cassidy, the Bishop of Southwell
  • The Revd Trevor Hatton, Priest-in-Charge, St Nicholas', Nottingham
  • The Revd Eileen McLean, Area Dean, Nottingham Central Deanery
  • Canon Andrew Deuchar, Rector of St Peter's Nottingham & Priest-in-Charge, All Saints', Nottingham
  • The Revd Stephen Morris, Lecturer, St Mary's Nottingham
  • The Revd Peter Willis, Central Methodist Mission, Nottingham
  • The Revd Malcolm Hanson, Provincial Moderator, The United Reformed Church
  • The Very Revd Mgr Tom McGovern, Administrator, St Barnabas Cathedral & Vicar-General, Chair of Nottingham Council of Churches
  • The Revd. James Stapleton, Open Christian Fellowship
  • The Revd Christian Weaver, The Pilgrim Church, Nottingham
  • The Revd Clifford Wilton, St Andrew's with Castlegate United Reformed Church
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 26th September 2002