A REPEAT of the wave of rioting and looting which swept London and other cities in England in 2011, is inevitable due to one in five young people being unemployed and cuts in children’s services, a writer has claimed.
Polly Courtney said more unrest is “only a matter of time” unless the UK government shifts its priorities to improve conditions for young adults.
The former investment banker turned author interviewed young people in areas hit by the unrest as research for her novel, Feral Youth, and said she was struck by the number of those who felt they had nothing to lose by carrying out such actions.
Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of start of the wave of looting and violence sparked by the death of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London two days earlier.
It spread to Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Merseyside, and the West Midlands.
Five people died and nearly 190 police officers were injured.
“Charities are doing an incredible job right now but, unless there is a significant shift in government priorities and spending, more riots can only be a matter of time”, she said.
“Since August 2011, the situation for many young people has got worse, not better. Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds is still at close to 1 million. That is 20 per cent of our young people out of work. More than half of councils have been forced to cut their spending on children’s services.”
Ms Courtney said the rioters that she spoke to felt they had nothing to lose.
She said: “Each one had an individual story, but the thing that everyone had in common was a sense that they had nothing to lose. They had nothing to lose by getting involved because they couldn’t see a path for themselves in the future.
“I think giving young people opportunities is the key thing that we need to focus on.”
Barbara Rayment, director of counselling service Youth Access, echoed the author’s views. “Given the right spark, the conditions exist for further eruptions of violence. Benefit cuts, poor access to housing and job opportunities, coupled with ongoing difficulties in police relations and lack of investment in youth services, demonstrate the lack of any empathetic Government policy that addresses young people’s concerns.”
Mr Duggan was shot by armed police in Tottenham on 4 August, 2011 after marksmen stopped the minicab in which he was travelling.
Officers had feared the father-of-four intended to carry out a revenge shooting over the death of his cousin. An inquest into the 29-year-old’s death is due to start next month following a series of delays
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it had found no evidence of criminality by officers
Mr Duggan’s family joined campaigners at a meeting at the weekend alongside speakers including supporters of Cynthia Jarrett, whose death after police raided her home sparked the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham in the 1980s.