The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Riot
  • Elements of the offence of riot
  • Unlawful violence
  • Twelve or more persons and common purpose
  • Requirement of violence by the defendant
  • Person of reasonable firmness
  • Intention to use violence
  • Place of commission of the offence
  • Defences to a charge of riot
  • Self-defence and related defences
  • More...

The offence of riot was created by the Public Order Act 1986 (POA 1986). It is triable only in the Crown Court.

Proceedings for riot or incitement to riot can only be commenced by, or with the consent of, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Elements of the offence of riot

Under the POA 1986 the prosecution must prove:

  1. 12 or more persons

  2. present together

  3. used or threatened unlawful violence for a common purpose, and

  4. the conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their personal safety, and

  5. each defendant used unlawful violence, and

  6. intended to use such violence for the common purpose, or

  7. was aware that their conduct may be violent

Unlawful violence

'Violence' is defined in POA 1986 to mean any violent conduct. The definition specifically includes violence against property as well as violent conduct towards people.

Twelve or more persons and common purpose

There must be evidence before the jury of the presence of at least 12 people using or threatening unlawful violence. If there is no such evidence the prosecution will fail. See: R v Mahroof (1988) 88 Cr App Rep 317 (not reported by LexisNexis®), a case concerning violent disorder and the necessity of proving the statutory requirement of the involvement of three people.

It is essential that the prosecution also proves that the defendant used unlawful violence

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