Riot is a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is created by section 1(1) of the Public Order Act 1986. Sections 1(1) to (5) of that Act read:

(1) Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot.
(2) It is immaterial whether or not the 12 or more use or threaten unlawful violence simultaneously.
(3) The common purpose may be inferred from conduct.
(4) No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or be likely to be, present at the scene.
(5) Riot may be committed in private as well as in public places.

A single person can be liable for an offence of riot when they use violence, provided that it is shown there were at least twelve present using or threatening unlawful violence.


This word is defined by section 8. The violence can be against the person or against property.

Mens rea

The mens rea is defined by section 6(1).

Restriction on institution of proceedings

See section 7(1)


See R v Tyler and others, 96 Cr App R 332, Crim LR 60, CA.

Mode of trial and sentence

Riot is an indictable-only offence. A person convicted of riot is liable to imprisonment for any term not exceeding ten years, or to a fine, or to both.

See the following cases:

  • R v Luttman Crim LR 127, CA
  • R v Pilgrim, 5 Cr App R (S) 140, CA
  • R v Keys, 84 Cr App R 204, 8 Cr App R (S) 444, Crim LR 207, CA
  • R v Cooke, 9 Cr App R (S) 116, CA

Association football matches

In the case of riot connected to football hooliganism, the offender may be banned from football grounds for a set or indeterminate period of time and may be required to surrender their passport to the police for a period of time in the event of a club or international match, or international tournament, connected with the offence. This prevents travelling to the match or tournament in question. (The measures were brought in by the Football (Disorder) Act 2000 after rioting of England fans at Euro 2000.)

Compensation for riot damage

See the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 and section 235 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995..


See section 10 of the Public Order Act 1986 for the construction of "riot" and cognate expressions in other instruments.

Common law offence

The common law offence of riot was abolished for England and Wales on 1 April 1987.


In the past, the Riot Act had to be read by an official - with the wording exactly correct - before violent policing action could take place. If the group did not disperse after the Act was read, lethal force could legally be used against the crowd. See also the Black Act.

Section 515 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 formerly made provision for compensation for riot damage.

Other articles related to "riot":

Muncy Abolition Riot Of 1842 - Riot
... This speaker and his speech set off a tremendous riot that lead to the near destruction of a local schoolhouse and the controversial pardoning of the rioters by ... officers were able to quell the riot and arrest the rioters ...
The Ejected - Discography - EPs
... Have You Got 10p? EP (1982) Riot City (#8) Noise For The Boys EP (1983) Riot City (#28) Press The Button EP (1983) Riot City (#32) ...
Black In America - Controversy & Criticism
... with the program’s periodic factual inaccuracies, such as when O'Brien refers to the riot which erupted in L.A ... riot in 100 years ... She conveniently ignores other more bloody incidents like the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 when over 300 blacks were slaughtered by white militiamen ...
List Of Riot Grrrl Bands
... The following is a list of bands associated with the riot grrrl genre from the early 1990s to the present, mainly in the USA and UK ... NB some of these bands pre-dated the original riot grrrl movement, while others may be more accurately categorised as grunge (see also 'foxcore'), queercore, punk, post-punk, no wave, digital ... Many bands did not identify with riot grrrl during the scene's first wave of the early 90s but became associated via personal and artistic connections or identified as riot grrrl by fans and/or ...

Famous quotes containing the word riot:

    The bowl will ensnare and enchant
    men who crouch by the hearth
    till they want
    but the riot of stars in the night;
    those who dwell far inland
    will seek ships.
    Hilda Doolittle (1886–1961)

    So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”
    Bible: New Testament, Matthew 27:24.