Archive for the ‘UK Rioters Analysis’ Category

UK Riots - Broken Penal System

Jeudi, septembre 8th, 2011

Writing in the Guardian and blaming a broken penal system the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, has entered the debate on the causes of the recent riots in the UK. His measured intervention is in contrast to some of the typically knee-jerk reactions of politicians up till now, of using the riots to justify their own favourite themes rather than awaiting a more thorough analysis of the root causes.
In defence of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who has said that the riots were not connected with poverty, has described them as criminality pure and simple and blamed what he has termed the broken society of Britain, there was a need to demonstrate strong leadership without the luxury of more time to reflect in front of the media. However, he has ruled out an investigation into the root causes of the unrest. The Labour party opposition is typically blaming the cuts in public services by the government despite these not yet having come into effect, although their leader, Ed. Miliband, has at least acknowledged the possible impact on national morality of delinquent MPs, greedy bankers and tax-avoiding, high-profile business people. He also wanted a public review of the causes of the riots.
The Justice Secretary has blamed the riots on a broken penal system that has failed to rehabilitate a group of hard-core offenders i.e. the criminal classes. He has revealed that almost 75% of those aged over 18 and charged with offences committed during the riots, had prior convictions. This demonstrated a need for urgent penal reform to stop re-offending among what he termed a feral underclass, cut off from mainstream society in everything apart from its materialism. He, therefore, called for a renewed government mission to address the appalling social deficit revealed by the riots.
Speaking from his long experience in government, including being Inner-Cities Minister 25 years ago, Kenneth Clarke considers the general recipe for a productive member of society is about having a job, a strong family and a decent education, accompanied by an attitude which shares the values of mainstream society. However, while the government is still resisting calls for a public inquiry, the first attempt at an empirical study of the causes and consequences of the riots has already been announced by the Guardian and the London School of Economics.

Analysis of UK Rioters

Mercredi, août 24th, 2011

Further to the article on the UK riots of two weeks ago (see Categories/Chairmans Blog/Social Mobility/UK Riots 2011 in the right-hand index column), analysis shows that the vast majority of those appearing in court were young, poor and male. Of the first 1000 cases, 90% of those charged were men, with less than 10% either studying or in employment and two-thirds aged under 25. The neighbourhoods they come from are depressed, two-thirds of these areas having got poorer between 2007 and 2010. In addition and according to the police, 60% of those charged in London already had previous convictions and 25% were known to be linked to gangs.
These rioters in the main belong within a group of people without skills, education or hope for the future. They seem detached from what we consider the social norm i.e. they remain outside normal society, are angry and alienated and, therefore, are perceived as a threat. They inhabit a social and emotional vacuum, are often the children of single or absent parents with no supporting family structure or adults they value and respect, to lay down the generally accepted rules of civilised society such as respect for the rule of law and the rights of their fellow citizens.
As Prince Charles suggested when meeting those impacted by the Tottenham riots, rather than just the results of pure criminal behaviour, was not gang membership for example also the logical extension of a basic human need for a social framework, to belong, to find identity, pride, camaraderie and purpose, as well as offering an albeit criminal means of taking a share of the goods available within our consumer society.
Writing today in a letter to the Times newspaper, Sir Michael Howard recalls his experience of joining gangs in his younger days, starting out at his first boarding school at the age of 9 and later joining more prestigious ones at his house at school, college at university and his regiment when joining the army. Although this example is taken from a vastly different level in society, it serves to illustrate the basic human need for a social framework. Sir Michael does not see why young people today should be denied the chance of acquiring such social skills because they cannot afford to learn them as expensively as he did.
Prince Charles also comes from an even more privileged and protected background but his instincts ring true. His charities and trusts have achieved a lot on youth unemployment and exclusion and he should, therefore, be listened to when the government reviews whether its current social and community policies are sufficient to avoid a recurrence of the recent riots. In the UK, there is a growing divide between rich and poor, not least in the respective perception of each side by the other. This perception gap needs to be bridged in developing through sharing these important middle-class-type, social skills key to finding e.g. good training and good jobs for their children.