Geschichte  |  Geographie  |  Wirtschaft  |  Gesellschaft


Megan Harrison, 2004 | Büron, LU


This paper concerns itself with the policing of the British coal miners’ strike of 1984 -85. It aims to give an insight into the strike by utilising interviews with former police officers and miners from Northern England active during strike as a primary source, taking both sides into account and giving a balanced report on the famously controversial policing of the strike. Major aspects like roadblocks as a police tactic and the removal of collar numbers are analysed as well as the legal framework surrounding them at the time. This paper also argues that another reason for Margaret Thatcher’s victory over the miners can be placed on the new approach of policing the strike compared to the two previous ones in 1972 and 1974. Lastly this paper also allows for and assesses the personal opinion of the interviewees on how they view the policing of the strike today and its impact on their lives to this day.


The central question with which this paper concerns itself with is how the miners’ strike of 1984 – 85 was policed. Were there any notable differences compared to the previous strikes in 1972 and 74? Further two critical aspects of policing were analysed and their legal framework questioned, plus the final question being what former miners and police officers think of the policing of the strike today.


Interviews led with three former miners and two former police officers active during the strike laid the groundwork and presented the main source for this study. Their experiences, opinions and perspectives of the strike gave this oral history paper a direct insight into the strike.


Throughout the late seventies and early eighties, the approach in policing civil unrest changed dramatically. Key differences were the establishment of the NRC (National Reporting Centre), the newly employed public order manual and roadblocks. Overall, the police compared to the 1972 and 74 strike came prepared and with more effective police tactics. Significant however are the aforementioned roadblocks whose legal foundation on basis of stopping and turning a vehicle around remains unclear. Another notable practice mentioned in the interviews were the removal of collar numbers on the side of the police for which allegedly especially the Metropolitan Police deployed from London was renowned for. This removal would clearly have been illegal and against the dress code of the Metropolitan Police force. All these factors combined created the miners’ distrust towards the police which persists until this day. While many of the miners struggle to close the chapter of the strike and some still try to seek justice, police officers have more neutral feelings towards it.


Seeing how policing industrial unrest had substantially changed from the mid-seventies until the strike in 1984, the policing of the strike can be seen as another factor on how the Thatcher government was able to turn the tide of the strike in their favour meaning the hypothesis set at the beginning of this paper can be supported. Also interesting were the police practices at the time such as roadblocks and the removal of collar numbers which have a questionable legal foundation. Further the resting resentment towards law enforcement is a continuous topic with interviewed miners, while the interviewed police officers call it a closed one. As these interviews with the former miners and police officers were used as the main source, all the conclusions drawn from these pose the main limitation of this paper; the miners’ strike was nationwide even spreading to Wales and Scotland, the conclusions drawn however only represent the interviewees own experiences in Northern England. For a clearer nationwide picture more interviews would need to be done with former miners and police officers from different areas.


While most of the questions posed at the beginning of this paper could be addressed, the miners’ strike of 1984-85 and the policing of it is a wide topic and there are many more aspects which could be dove into. One example would be the further investigation on the power to stop and search vehicles based on local legislation, as no national legislation existed. It would also be very interesting to investigate the strike itself and the policing from the viewpoint of police officers, as it’s mostly told from the perspective of miners.



Würdigung durch den Experten

Dr. Francis Müller

In ihrer Arbeit «Policing the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85» beschäftigt sich Megan Harrison mit dem «Katz-und-Maus-Spiel», das sich streikende Kohlearbeiter und die Polizei im nördlichen England lieferten. Mittels «Oral History» lässt Autorin verschiedene Akteur:innen – drei ehemalige Streikende und zwei Polizist:innen – zu Wort kommen. Im Gegensatz zu früheren Streikbewegungen ging die Polizei damals gewalttätiger vor und so konnte die Premierministerin Margaret Thatcher den Sieg über den Streik für sich proklamieren. Eine historisch fundierte Arbeit, die auf einer engagierten Recherche basiert.






Kantonsschule Sursee
Lehrerin: Nicole Burkard