Rioters in England are often reoffenders, have little hopes and dreams, wanted certain brands, do not feel respected and are very unsatisfied with the police
Residents in English communities where riots took place last summer want rioters – many of whom had long criminal records – appropriately punished. However, they also believe that action is needed to ensure that in the future, these individuals and those displaying worrying signs of similar behaviour can play a positive role in their areas. When people feel they have no reason to stay out of trouble the consequences can be devastating. Everyone should have a stake in society according to the Riots Communities and Victims Panel.
Title: After the riots – The final report of the Riots
Communities and Victims Panel
Date of publication: 28 March 2012
Contributing country: United Kingdom (UK)
Organisation: Riots Communities and Victims Panel
Researchers: Simon Marcus, Heather Rabbatts CBE, Darra Singh OBE (Panel Chair), Baroness Maeve Sherlock OBE
Summary: 6 focal points of the research
In the interim report, 6 key areas are set out that the Panel believes will combine to build social and economic resilience in communities and which are focussed on in this final report – children and parents, building personal resilience, hopes and dreams, riots and the brands, the usual suspects and the police and the public.
Children and parents: rioter behaviour could ultimately be ascribed to poor parenting
Many communities feel that rioter behaviour could ultimately be ascribed to poor parenting. We need to consider what can be done to ensure that all children get the right support, control and guidance from parents or guardians to give them the best possible chance of making the most of their lives. Government has recently established a Troubled Families Programme (TFP) – an intensive scheme to address the needs of the 120,000 most challenged families. The Panel supports the work of TFP but the overlap with rioters is limited. In a poll of 80 local authorities conducted by the Panel, only 5% felt there was a great deal of overlap between the troubled families and rioter families. While the actual overlap might be higher, evidence suggests that a significant connection between TFP families and the families of the rioters has not yet been established. Instead, public services describe a group of approximately 500,000 ‘forgotten families’ who ‘bump along the bottom’ of society.
Building personal resilience: the need to focus on how to instil character where it is lacking
The Panel met people who had been convicted of all kinds of riot related offences. There were also those who had suffered considerable disadvantage, who made a choice not to get involved in the riots. In asking what it was that made young people make the right choice in the heat of the moment, the Panel heard of the importance of character. A number of attributes together form character, including self-discipline, application, the ability to defer gratification and resilience in recovering from setbacks. Young people who develop character will be best placed to make the most of their lives. Evidence also tells us that employers want to see character in potential recruits. Work programme providers are forced to focus on it in helping young adults find work. In our National Survey, over half of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) who responded do not rate provision in their areas to build character in young people as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The Panel feels that the riots demonstrated the need to focus on how to instil character where it is lacking.
Hopes and dreams: the lack thereof?
Many young people the Panel met following the riots spoke of a lack of hopes and dreams for the future – particularly because they feel there was no clear path to work in an age of record youth unemployment. Too many of the most vulnerable children and young people are failed by the system according to the research findings. In the Neighbourhood Survey, only 43 per cent of residents feel schools adequately prepare young people for work. Only 22 per cent feel public services are doing enough to address youth unemployment.
Riots and the brands: advertisement makes youngsters want certain brands which were much looted during the riots
The riots were particularly characterised by opportunistic looting and very much targeted at brands – 50 per cent of recorded offences in the riots were acquisitive in nature. The Panel was told that the majority of shops targeted stocked high value consumer products: clothes, trainers, mobile telephones and computers.
Usual suspects: rioters brought before the courts had on average 11 previous convictions
The Interim Report showed that rioters brought before the courts had on average 11 previous convictions. People want rioters to be punished, but they also want to make sure we do all we can to stop those people from continuing to offend in future. Victims and the wider public deserve a justice system that is effective at both. Some 66 per cent of residents we surveyed agreed that rehabilitation is the best way of preventing offenders from committing further crimes.
Police and the public: Black and minority ethnic happiness following contact with the police is significantly worse than it is for white people
Trust in the police is vitally important in any community. It leads to communities getting more involved in policing, it ensures the police can understand local communities’ needs and it helps to break down cultural barriers. When the public trust police motives, they are willing to support them by reporting crimes or antisocial behaviour, by providing local intelligence and acting as witnesses. 1 in 3 people think that the police are corrupt, and 1 in 5 think that they are dishonest. While not suggesting this is in any way accurate, this perception must be damaging to the police’s relationship with the communities they serve. Black and minority ethnic happiness following contact with the police is significantly worse than it is for white people – 64 per cent, compared to 77 per cent. This is also an issue that affects particular neighbourhoods. In our Neighbourhood Survey, 1 in 4 who had recent contact with the police were unhappy at the way they were treated. In some areas it was as high as 1 in 3. These are unacceptably high figures.
Conclusion: giving a helping hand
The neighbourhoods we visited are facing significant issues. These are areas of high crime and youth unemployment. Many feel their quality of life is poor. There are concerns around cohesion, with the majority of people feeling individuals do not treat each other with respect. In these communities, where parents struggle or are unable to play their part, the system fails. At this point, just when children and families need support the most, they are unable to obtain it. The recommendations the Panel makes as part of this report are together designed to tackle these issues – ensuring public services work together and accept accountability for turning around the lives of individuals, families and, in turn, communities. In addition, the Panel wants to create a series of ‘red lines’, outlining the sort of treatment every child, family and community can expect from public services.
Read the whole research including the recommendations made by the Panel in the Reference Material folder on the right hand side.