The Front Line

After the New Cross fire of January 1981 and the subsequent Black People's Day of Action, tensions between the local community and the Metropolitan Police escalated when a massive stop-and-search operation was launched, targeting black people throughout Brixton, south London. The situation boiled over into one of the biggest riots in British history. Buildings were burned down and hundreds of police injured. Riots then flared up all over the country, from Southall in west London to Toxteth in Liverpool. By the year's end, the people of New Cross were no closer to knowing who started the fire or why - and a lack of answers and justice has lingered over the case ever since.