Remembering PC Keith Blakelock

06 October 2010

PC Claire Bloomfield with a floral tribute

The MPS today (Wednesday 6 October) honoured the life of PC Keith Blakelock who was murdered on the streets of Haringey 25 years ago.

The dedicated officer was attacked and killed during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham on 6 October 1985.

"PC Keith Blakelock was murdered in shocking circumstances after trying to protect the fire-brigade"

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson joined members of the local community in remembering PC Blakelock at a memorial service marking his death and celebrating his life and achievements this afternoon.

As part of the service, and in keeping with borough tradition, Haringey's youngest serving probationer PC Claire Bloomfield, 24, laid a floral tribute at the memorial stone dedicated to PC Blakelock in Muswell Hill.

PC Blakelock joined the MPS on 14 November 1980 and was initially assigned on a response team at Hornsey Police Station before becoming Home Beat Officer in Muswell Hill, Haringey.

The father of three, originally from Sunderland, had proved popular with both colleagues and the local community where he served.

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said: "PC Keith Blakelock was murdered in shocking circumstances after trying to protect the fire-brigade so that they could put out a fire that was threatening the lives of residents on the Broadwater Farm Estate.

"I hope that this 25th anniversary proves the opportunity for those who have information on his killing to have the confidence to come forward and help bring justice for his family and those who knew him."

Haringey's Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Dave Grant, said: "I worked with Keith and remember him as a hard-working and dedicated officer. He joined my response team in 1981 when I was still a PC and we worked together for two years before he became the Home Beat Officer for Muswell Hill. Keith was ideal in the role and it's very telling that after all these years the community still stand by local officers to remember Keith and honour the work he did."

PC Blakelock was one of the first officers called to Broadwater Farm and, together with his colleague PC Richard Coombes, attempted to protect several fire fighters who had been targeted by rioters. As the violence escalated officers retreated but PC Blakelock stumbled and was murdered by a gang during angry clashes on the Tottenham estate.

The reinvestigation into the murder of PC Blakelock, and attempted murder of PC Coombes, was announced following a lengthy review in December 2003. As part of this review, an address in Tottenham was excavated in 2004. A number of significant exhibits have also been forensically re-examined with advances in technology.

As a result of people coming forward with information, the inquiry has this year entered into an arrest phase, with a total of 10 suspects being arrested during 2010. Officers are encouraged by the new information received and are starting to build a clearer picture of some of the events which occurred that night. It is important to reiterate that further information is still needed and officers can take extreme measures to respect individual confidentiality.

Detective Superintendent John Sweeney, who leads the murder inquiry, said: "When I was given the responsibility for re-investigating this murder I made a personal promise to Keith's widow, Elizabeth, and their sons. I promised to do my utmost to identify and bring to justice those responsible for killing Keith. The investigation team continues to strive to achieve this goal and today I am asking for the public's help.

"Keith's sons and grandchildren are due to be present at the memorial today. Elizabeth has had to bring up their sons without him. This must have been a daunting task for her but she has been extremely successful. Her sons are a credit to both Elizabeth and themselves, all growing up to be sons that any father would be proud of and I have no doubt Keith is.

"We can only imagine the pain the Blakelock family must feel from losing a loved one in such devastating circumstances. Receiving no answers for 25 years can only add to their sadness and frustration. It is incredibly important they are given the answers and closure that they yearn for and deserve.

"I know for certain that there are people out there with vital information who could help us provide those answers. If you are one of those people, I ask you to please come forward. If you were there and saw what happened, if you have heard people talking about their part in the killing, any piece of information, large or small, could prove essential to our investigation. 25 years is a long time and circumstances do change - relationships may come to an end, individuals and families can move house and children grow up. If you were 18 years old at the time you will be 43 years old now.

"We fully recognise that there are people who, for very valid reasons at the time, felt unable to come forward. I urge you to now reconsider your position and get in touch. All information will be handled in the strictest of confidence and we will assess and address any of the concerns you may have.

"The re-investigation is very much on-going and we have made a number of significant steps forward in recent years, but we need the help of the public to ensure that all those who attacked Keith with weapons are held accountable for their actions.

"The 6th October 1985 was an extremely sad day in the history of policing and no police officer serving at the time will ever forget it. Today's memorial ceremony is a reminder of the brutal and tragic events experienced by the officers of Serial 502 that day. I am determined to establish the truth so that everyone affected can draw a line and finally move on.

"I urge anyone with even the smallest piece of information to please come forward and help us find the truth behind Keith's murder.

It must be stressed that the investigation is wholly focused on the murder of Keith Blakelock and attempted murder of Richard Coombes. It is not concerned with any other incidents which occurred during the Broadwater Farm disturbances. This is not a re-investigation of the riot and we are not looking to arrest participants of public disorder.