In the past, Nick Griffin has defended the threat of violence in furthering the party's aims. After the BNP won its first council seat in 1993, he wrote: "The electors of Millwall did not back a postmodernist rightist party, but what they perceived to be a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan 'Defend Rights for Whites' with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate." In 1997, believing he was addressing members of the French Front National, he said: It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chambers." In January 1986, when Griffin was Deputy Chair of the NF, he advised his audience at an anti-IRA rally to use the "traditional British methods of the brick, the boot and the fist."
A BBC Panorama programme reported on a number of BNP members who have had criminal convictions, some racially motivated. The BBC's list is extensive. Some of the more notable convictions include:
* In 1998, Nick Griffin was convicted of violating section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, relating to incitement to racial hatred. He received a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was fined £2,300.
* Kevin Scott, the BNP's North East regional organiser, has two convictions for assault and using threatening words and behaviour.
* Joe Owens, now expelled but previously a BNP candidate in Merseyside and former bodyguard to Nick Griffin, has served eight months in prison for sending razor blades in the post to Jewish people and another term for carrying CS gas and knuckledusters.
* Tony Wentworth, former BNP student organiser, was convicted alongside Mr Owens for assaulting demonstrators at an anti-BNP event in 2003.
* Colin Smith, BNP South East London organiser has 17 convictions for burglary, theft, stealing cars, possession of drugs and assaulting a police officer.