What have we learnt from the Riots?

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I followed the riots live across multiple resources for 3 of the 4 main days of rioting. I caught pretty much all the reportage and interviews, updates, aftermaths and expositions; and the following is my own personal POV roundup:


Probable Causes?

The BBC posted a list of 10 likely contributors to the Riots, to which I have added a few more:


Welfare Dependence - The mix of people involved in the riots does not really underline this - rich kid brats, postmen, teaching assistants, Olympic ambassdors and real estate agents were all arrested and charged. Also, the age of arrested ranged from 11 to 50 and included several walks of life - many of them quite unexpected, and outside the presumed criminal / social underbelly

Social Exclusion - Talk of a social underclass / criminal underclass was not entirely justified as perpetrators came from a much wider social demographic; there was though a high proportion from low / no-income council estates

Lack of Parenting - Presiding judges noted that very few minors (under 18s) had their parent/s in tow for court hearings. Scandinavian studies have shown that single parent families can be equally competent in raising high achieving children, so it’s not necessarily lack of fathers as many say, just a lack of parenting full stop

Spending Cuts - The current government’s cutbacks, in order to tackle the mounting national debt / deficit, cannot really be substantiated as yet, as the spending cuts have not fully set in - largely opposition party politiciking

Weak Policing - I actually agree with a lot of commentators on this; I have watched a number of interviews with the perpetrators and almost all stated that they participated after they witnessed the non-action of the Tottenham Police ("The Police just stood by and did nothing!"). Had the Police weighed in heavier from the start, it is unlikely that the riots would have spread in the way that they did. Also, the lax / slow / poor response from the IPCC to the initial incident was the cause of the first flare-up

Racism - The original Mark Duggan shooting was not necessarily what sparked the initial Tottenham riots, it was how the Police and the IPCC in particular dealt with the family of the deceased and the initial peaceful gathering of demonstrators - had this been handled properly, it is far less likely that violence would have flared up. As to whether the initial incident had racist overtones - this remains to be seen. It remains a fact though that a proportionally high number of individuals from the Afro-Caribbean communities are involved in gun and knife-related crimes / violence

Gangster Culture / Rap - This has largely been disproved over the years, your musical taste is not necessarily an indicator of your activities - I can like gangsta rap without needing to cap someone’s ass. The riots that flared up cannot be attributed to purely gang violence, which tends to have quite a different modus operandi and different patterns in general

Consumerism / Capitalism - The have-nots will always want what they don’t have, in social revolutions this could be simple basic sustenance (bread!) and a roof over one’s head. Consumerism does encourage you to keep up with the Jones’s, not though to steal and destroy to get even

Opportunism - This has to be the main reason - people saw others getting ’free stuff’ as they reckoned, and wanted some of the action for themselves - some enterprising individuals and even some families took estate cars and vans and filled their boots at several locations, even needing to return home to unload part-way through the night - before they went out for more. Also, apart from Ealing and Clapham Junction and some of the more affluent areas, it seems that the majority of perpetrators were local-ish opportunists. This took place right in the middle of the school holidays too, which is why so many ’school kids’ (11-18 year olds) were involved. Another important point is that the weather was good - had it been pouring with rain, there would be far fewer people out on the streets

Technology and Social Media - There’s no doubting that Blackberry Messaging helped co-ordinate some of the activities, but then again social media also helped members of the public keep informed and assisted with the cleanup. The UK Government is totally wrong in trying to curb social media - social media is a key tool for news reportage and information gathering and distribution / public alerts in a much bigger and more beneficial way than illicit messaging

Lack of Moral Compass - Politicians stealing from the public (taxes) by cheating on expenses, Bankers getting bailed out by the public (more taxes) for dodgy gambling of the public’s nest eggs - looks like everyone is getting a slice of the action and no one is getting punished - now a new set of claimants wants a slice of the action! Individuals don’t realise that this wanton destruction will result in yet higher taxes and some further reduction in services, as well as obviously increased unemployment by way of burnt-down and destroyed businesses

Lack of Respect / Discipline - Parents, Policemen and Teachers can no longer grab kids by the scruff of the neck for outrageous behaviour and doll out reasonable and fitting punishments - as a result, kids have no healthy fear or respect for any so called ’authority figues’ - they pretty much do what they want, without fear of repercussions or punishments

Lack of Aspiration - The Current Economic Crisis, High Unemployment, Poor Prospects - future looks bleak for many - so they assume they should make the most of now! This really goes hand-in-hand with reckless opportunism, selfishness, and not caring for your wider community or society

Sense of Entitlement - The contemporary myth of the celebrity lifestyle, which is not the same as meritocratic capitalism, has meant that several role models exist who get bags of swag for contributing very little to society - your typical Katie Price / Paris Hilton / Kim Kardashian types. For many youths, the height of aspiration is to be the next Katie Price - rather than contributing something back to society or your local community - John F. Kennedy’s ’What You Can Do for your Country’ seems a very old-fashioned and out-of-touch ideal for many echelons of current society (Politicians, MPs, Celebrities and of course Criminals), far too many people seem to be in it for themselves - everyone’s looking for a free and easy ride, not realising that there is a much larger cost / knock-on effect for everything they do

Where were the Riots (in London)?

Mostly in middling to impoverished areas:
Balham, Barking, Barnet, Battersea, Bethnal Green, Blackheath, Brixton, Bromley, Camberwell Green, Camden, Canning Town, Catford, Charlton, Chingford Mount, Chislehurst, Colliers Wood, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Dalston, East Dulwich, Elephant and Castle, Eltham, Enfield, Fulham Broadway, Hackney, Harlesden, Harringay, Ilford, Isle of Dogs, Kentish Town, Lewisham, Old Kent Road, Peckham, Ponder’s End, Romford, Seven Sisters, Streatham, South Woodford, Surrey Quays, Sutton, Tooting, Tottenham, Waltham Cross, Waltham Forest, Walthamstow, Wood Green, Woolwich

But also in a couple of neighbouring affluent areas:
Bayswater, Chelsea, Clapham Junction, Ealing, Fulham, Islington, Notting Hill, Oxford Circus, Portobello Road

Worst affected:
Clapham Junction, Croydon, Ealing, Tottenham

In addition to London:
The riots spread out to City Centres in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, and suburbs of Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, West Bromwich, Chatham and Gillingham


Who / What did the rioters target:

People targeted:

  • Police
  • Shopkeepers
  • Anyone not wearing a hoodie / mask

Stores targeted (looted and smashed): (sporting goods stores, electronics / phone stores, banks / ATM’s, clothing stores, general grocery stores, bike shops, pawnbrokers, betting agents and travel shops, mainly):

  • Argos, Carphone Warehouse, Comet, Currys, Debenhams, Halfords, H&M, JD Sports, JJB Sports, O2, Orange, PC World, Tesco, T-Mobile, Vodfone
Stores Burnt:
Croydon - Cash Exchange Pawnbrokers, Greyhound Motors Motorcycles, House of Reeves Furniture, Totesport betting shop
Tottenham - Allied Carpets, Post Office
Enfield - Sony DADC Distribution Centre / Plant
Ealing - Ealing Green Local Supermarket
Clapham Junction - Party Superstore
Peckham - Regen’s Lingerie
Woolwich - Great Harry JD Wetherspoon’s Pub

Stores not targeted!:

  • Waterstones at Clapham Junction, Apple Stores (All products removed into secure storage overnight)

Known Riot Victims


  • Killed in London - Trying to stamp out fire in Ealing - Richard Mannington Bowes
  • Killed in London - Shot in car in Croydon - Trevor Ellis
  • Killed in Birmingham - Run over when trying to protect a Jet petrol station in Winson Green - Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali, and Abdul Musavir


  • Malaysian Student Mohammed Ashraf Haziq, jaw broken, bike stollen then mugged a second time when rucksack was ransacked

Who were the Rioters?


All Ages - People from 11 to nearly 50 participated - obviously school holidays meant that most youths had plenty of spare time on their hands

All Races - Caucasians, Asians, Afro-Caribbeans etc. - in certain pockets of activity some minorities were proportionally more significant, but over all the days - we really did get representatives as such from right across the social spectrum

Most Walks of Life - Sure there was likely a high degree of criminals and petty offenders involved, but also - youth workers, postmen, real estate agents, school kids as young as 11, rich kid brats, teaching assistants, and strangely entire families in their family car - filling up at the local Lidl or Tesco or Currys



Popular Brands Worn by Rioters: 

  • Adidas - Trainers / Tracksuits / Hoodies / Sweatpants / Jackets / Headwear
  • Nike - Trainers / Tracksuits / Hoodies / Sweatpants / Jackets / Headwear
  • G-Star - Jeans / Tops
  • Carharrt - Jeans / Tops
  • The North Face - Jackets / Gilets
  • Franklin & Marshall - Tops / Sweatpants
  • Timberland - Boots
  • Fred Perry - Tops


 Punishment / Sentencing


Under 18s - Several under 18s were dismissed, although most received ’Youth Referral Orders’ - something along the lines of an ASBO order; and some received tracker ankle bracelets attached to postcode curfews

Over 18s - Initial sentencing seemed lenient - initially 12-16 week custodial sentences, quickly ramped up to 6 month sentences

Technology / Social Media / Web

Key new Hashtags:
#londonriots #mancriots #brumriots etc.

Social Media:

For Rioters:
Rioters used smarphones, Blackberry / BBM in particular to co-ordinate attacks, then Twitter and Facebook to show off loot!

For Public:
Twitter, Blogs and News Resources to follow riots, then Twitter & Facebook + RiotCleanup.com to co-ordinate local area cleanups

Key Riot Web Resources:

During the Riots, I followed live feed updates on:

For Riot Protection Supplies:
Amazon.co.uk - Aluminium Baseball Bats up 6000% in ’Sporting and Leisure Goods Movers and Shakers’ during Riots (Our household now has 3 of these for ’emergencies’!)


Riot Vocabulary

Baton Rounds - The offical name for rubber / plastic bullets

BBM - Blackberry Messenger - Rioters communication tool of choice

Centre for Social Justice - Leading apologist for Rioters’ actions

Criminality - i.e. Rioters were involved in wanton criminality - robbing, looting and destruction of property; e.g. stealing a Fender Stratocaster and using it to smash in the window of a neighbouring store - ’Criminal’!

Protesters - BBC’s overly PC reference to the Rioters for the first 2 days

Recreational Violence - Riots were a ’fun day out’ for many of the participants, a tussle with the police, and then some random destruction and looting, a little bit like the ’Ultra Violence’ of Clockwork Orange

Reparative Sentencing - call for perpetrators to be involved in cleanup / re-building activities within the local communities where they committed their crimes

Social Exclusion - Another probable cause given as key reason for rioting - how about opportunism and lack of respect for your fellow human being?

Underclass - Social and Criminal Underclass, supposedly the key demographic for rioters

"Use of Reasonable Force, including weapons" - The police giving members of the public permission to defend themselves and their properties in a semi-vigilante fashion

Youth Referal Order - the most popular from of punishment meted out - one step away from an ASBO sentence really

Cher Lloyd at Number One in the Charts (incitement to rioting!?!):

Swagger jagger, swagger jagger
You should get some of your own
Count that money, get your game on
Get your game on, get ya, get ya, game on

Please feel free to join in the debate and make sensible, rational comments here below!:

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