Monday, 12 September 2011


Rioting link to deprivation revealed

More than a third of suspects charged with offences related to the
riots in London last month live in the poorest fifth of the city’s
areas, research by the Financial Times has found. The analysis, based
on unpublished court papers detailing the addresses and charges
against more than 300 suspects, appears to confirm a strong link
between rioting and deprivation.

Overall, two-thirds of all suspects live in neighbourhoods with
below-average income, and only 3 per cent hail from the wealthiest 20
per cent of areas. In total, 1,354 suspects have now been charged in
the capital. The FT’s research shows that when London’s
neighbourhoods are clustered into 10 groups on the basis of their
average income, there are 11 additional riot suspects for every step
down in the deprivation ranking. Typical of the deprived
neighbourhood in which many of the suspects live is the Friary estate
in Peckham, south-east London, only 300 meters from the Old Kent
Road, where large stores including Carphone Warehouse and Tesco were
looted on the night of August 8-9.

At least three suspect live on the estate, which falls into the
poorest 20 per cent of London neighbourhoods. A further eight
suspects live nearby. Like the rest of the accused rioters in the
FT’s sample, the average age of suspects from in and around the
estate is 20, and the vast majority are male. Michael Orey,
vice-chairman of the estate’s Tenants’ and Residents’ Association,
blamed deprivation and the impact of societal “neglect” on young
people in the area – a phenomenon which, he said, started with
exclusion from school and finished with persistent worklessness. He
also blamed cuts to local authority-run services – arguing that these
were already making themselves apparent. Parents had received a
letter, he said, casting doubt on the future of the estate’s One
O’Clock Club, part of the Sure Start children’s daycare programme.
Other rumours have circulated of cuts – denied by Southwark borough
council – to local youth facilities. “The panic is here now,” said Mr
Orey. “People are wondering what they’re going to do.” His remarks
were echoed by young men from the area. Asked what drove some locals
to rioting and looting, one said: “It’s happening in areas where
people aren’t getting dealt with. . . There are no jobs, so people
took the opportunity.”

Another said: “People just got involved for free stuff. They took
what they could. “Someone else started it so they just jumped in,
because this is a poor area. Someone basically opened the door and
people just walked in.”

Across the road from the Friary estate, Mohammed, the keeper of the
Pay Less general store and off-licence, said that the looting during
the riots was just an extreme example of the shoplifting local youths
carried out on his premises “every day”.

“The police have no control here,” he said. “The police . . . must do
something. We need a CCTV camera here.”

He added: “There shouldn’t be youths [hanging outside] here. They
should have a youth club – then we’d have control.”

However, young men from the area told the FT that if any single
motivation to riot could be isolated, it was existing methods of
police control – particularly the practice of stop-and-search, in
which officers search people regardless of whether or not they have
grounds for suspicion.

Black people in the borough of Southwark experience one of the
highest rates of stop-and-search in inner London, according to the
Equality and Human Rights Commission.

One black 16-year-old, eating pizza with his friends on a bench on
the corner of the Old Kent Road, said the looting “was a nice chance
to get back at the police because they abuse their power”.

He added: “I’ve been stopped since I was 10 years old. I got stopped
and searched when I got milk for my mum”.

An 18-year-old, with an older group of young black men, agreed,
saying: “It’s [been] a long time coming: payback for . . . getting
stopped and searched. I get stopped and searched every day.”

While most riot suspects in Peckham – like those in Camden and
Brixton – live within one or two kilometres of the scene of the
crimes they are accused of, the FT’s analysis of some targeted areas
shows that the alleged perpetrators live relatively far away.

While, on average, the median distance between a London suspect’s
home and the location of their alleged crime was 2.9km, Ealing
suspects lived a median of 6.9km from the scene of rioting. In
Woolwich, the median distance was 5.6km and in Croydon it was 3.9km.

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