Victims panel warns riots could happen again
Urgent action is needed to prevent a repeat of the riots that swept England during August, according to the independent panel investigating the unrest.
The Riots Communities and Victims Panel, chaired by former housing boss Darra Singh, has spent the last 10 weeks visiting 20 areas, engaging with thousands of people who were affected by the summer’s riots and some who were not.
In its interim report published today it estimates between 13,000 and 15,000 people were actively involved in the disturbances between 6 and 10 August. The report reveals that 26 per cent of those who had appeared before the courts for crimes committed during the riots were aged between 10 and 17. Nearly half (46 per cent) of this group live in the 10 per cent lowest income areas.
‘While deprivation is not an excuse for criminal behaviour we must seek to tackle the underlying causes of the riots or they will happen again,’ said Mr Singh.
The panel found that the riots were not caused by any single issue, but had the police response in Tottenham and other areas in London been more robust during the initial disturbances, the riots would not have happened elsewhere in England.
Thirty areas experienced more than 40 crimes each. Over two thirds of all crimes took place in London, 11 per cent in Greater Manchester, 10 per cent in the west midlands and 4 per cent in Merseyside.
Panel member Maeve Sherlock said that people it had met in towns that had not experienced riots this summer ‘felt lucky’ – if the disturbances had gone on for longer, their area could have been next. ‘Nobody could say with any confidence that if [riots] did happen again, they would be safe,’ she said at the launch, which took place at One Housing Group’s Arlington Centre in Camden, north London.
The Riots Communities and Victims Panel’s final report will be published in March. One of the areas it will focus on is how young people can fulfil their ambitions. ‘We were concerned at the level of despondency and anxiety amongst the young in particular,’ the panel stated in its interim report.
Inside Housing, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation are publishing their own Riot Report on 10 February. It will look at the role of social landlords in preventing further outbreaks of violence, including the work many already do to help young residents into training and employment.
Young people and the riots
One Housing Group interviewed a range of young people to get their views on the riots. Here are the results.
Credit: One Housing Group and the Central Office of Information