22nd March 2002

Alderney arrest sparks a “riot”

An arrest on Alderney sparked the first riot anyone could remember.

Reporting the disturbance a couple of days later, The Times said the arrest was merely the spark that ignited something far bigger. To understand the real reasons you’d need to look back to the Second World War. Alderney had been evacuated, and when the residents returned to find many homes almost derelict, many blamed Guernsey residents for looting them.

Guernsey was put in charge of policing Alderney and, says the Times, “lingering animosity and the fact that Alderney people have no right of residence in Guernsey have deterred them from joining the police ever since”.

So, when an Alderney man suspected of drink-driving was arrested by two Guernsey policemen, up to 30 people tried to free him. Some described their support as a riot.

Local support

The Scotsman reported that “He tried to run away, urged on by his friends, but the officers held him and in the tussle that followed, one allegedly hit him with a baton. They then followed the officers to the nearby police station, 200 yards away.”

The police called in reinforcements, both from Guernsey (which didn’t arrive until the morning), the resident local police and the fire brigade. A fight broke out and several people were injured.

The Telegraph wrote that in the hour-long fight, which began at 1am, “the mob pelted the police station with stones and other missiles and one of the island’s four policemen used CS spray”

Six more locals were arrested, and the Alderney States warned that if convicted they could expect a custodial sentence.

A riot, or just a disturbance?

A reporter from The Guardian visited Alderney to report on the aftermath and found that, on the whole, the locals believed it had been blown up to more than it actually was. Some described it as a “melee”, and some said the police were “heavy-handed” and “over-reacted”.


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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st