The riots spread to our city yesterday,


and Hub went out this morning to see what damage had been done in our parish. A car has been burnt out, and attacks made on the bank, a cash machine, the fish and chip shop (imagine if they had managed to set that on fire, praise God they didn’t), a mobile phone shop, a shop where you can get lottery tickets, and various others. Nobody seems to have been hurt, although some have been frightened. He checked up with the Baptist pastor, and the Gurdwara: so far, everyone is OK. This afternoon he’s going down to the city centre police station where he’s now voluntary chaplain, to see how they are. There’s bound to be a lot of tension.

At staff meeting this morning Community Minister had her head in her hands. She works all the time, and very successfully, on community liaison. What is all this rioting about? It is not about race. It is not about religion. And it is not primarily about politics.

It is not even general: there was a huge carnival here on Sunday, with in excess of 25,000 people in the local park, and no major trouble at all.

Clearly, judging from the types of shop which have been ransacked, both locally and in the city centre, the gangs were on the lookout for the things they cannot normally afford: designer clothes, mobiles etc.

So is this about poverty? Even so, however poor, there is no justification whatsoever for the violence, the wilful damage, and the putting of lives in danger. There are plenty of really poor places in the world where this doesn’t happen. It’s wrong, it’s a disgrace, it’s an affront to a civilised society, and it’s completely irresponsible.

However. If you take away people’s future by hiking up university fees far beyond what most people can contemplate, if you take away their hope, if you cut funding to all the voluntary agencies working with the young unemployed, and if the cuts only ever seem to affect the most vulnerable, then there is going to be a reaction. If CCTV is taken down, and police forces reduced, then there are also going to be fewer police around to patrol the streets, arrest wrongdoers and keep the rest of us safe.

Our government seems to be run by a wealthy elite, who don’t appear to be giving anything up in this recession. The salary of some of them for a single year could probably feed the starving of Mogadishu. A widening gulf between rich and poor, especially when the rich are in government, is bound to destabilise society.

The Big Society? while removing the funding that would make it possible? Let’s see what you’re made of, Cameron and Clegg. We’re waiting.



  1. This is very frightening …. and more than that – it is deeply disturbing. An explosive mixture of disenfranchisement, loss of hope, loss of respect for politicians mixed in with disgust and opportunism. Hope it doesn’t happen here … we have no police!!


  2. I agree with everything you said having just added something very similar to Tom’s Blog – I was disgusted with what was happening – originally coming from North London so know the area well. Surely if that was the case then other parts of the country would rebel as this problem isn’t just confined to the Capital and large cities.

    No these were young thugs, bored with nothing to do, who saw the opportunity for easy pickings and incited others to do the same. If they get caught then I doubt they will see what they did was wrong.


      1. I have the newsreel up…..

        The Met Police has called on retired officers to help as they promised to swamp London’s streets and act tougher if there is another night of rioting in the capital.

        We are all keeping heads down tonight as looks like there will be a prob here.

        P xx


  3. The underlying areas of discontent, cannot be addressed until we can safely walk in our streets again. At this stage it is too easy to say the imminent exclusion of people from becoming upwardly mobile is a large cause in the general disaffection. Sure, there is disaffection, it has been there a long time, but it didn’t all burst forth in theft, arson, burglary, rioting and looting every month since it has been recognised.

    You make many useful points, I don’t disagree with them, what I do disagree with is the analysis of the social discontent just now, at this juncture. It gives useful excuses for this unacceptable and criminal behaviour to continue.


    1. I would not disagree with that, neither am I in any way making excuses for this behaviour, in fact I make a point of saying so. But it is difficult to see any other cause for it, other than greed for material things, boredom and a gang mentality. There are any number of projects to encourage such youngsters off the streets and into a more constructive mindset, but many of them don’t want to know, and this is where it gets very difficult to know what to do next.


      1. At this stage your description of ‘greed and gang mentality’ will be part of the process of the disorder. A lot of the thieves have been around a while operating in devious ways. What an ideal opportunity this lawlessness is for their skills. I make no apology for viewing what is happening with bluntness, it is no more blunt than their behaviour deserves.

        The armoury of communication that is being used by the groups, will also become the armoury of law enforcers. These thugs will destroy hard won liberties and rights for the majority of law abiding citizens. Sympathetic social concerns will take a long time to surface. Now, there is raw and naked violence to deal with and raw anger and fear inculcated by the rioters to overcome. These idiots are hurting the very people who would have tried to continue to offer social support.

        The priority is to restore order and community safety.

        I can foresee that we will not have sufficient youth custody centres, jail cells, or sufficient community supervision for community-based sentences. Will we go back to the idea of prison ships?


      2. Hub has just returned from visiting a couple of police stations and talking to the officers. It would appear that they have been cautious about taking action, because of the past problems in which they have been accused of starting or even of inciting the violence by heavy-handedness. There is a sense in which the trouble has to be done before they can act. However, Hub got the distinct impression that if there is trouble tonight then their reaction may well be much more robust.


      3. Much of what your hub found maybe unsaid but known, that there is a partially paralysed level of intervention. It serves the law enforcers to have the evidence and wait for the offences to be clearly committed, not just for this lawless outbreak, but for every recent major and minor case. It has been so for more than a decade.

        Years ago the prosecution service took a case to court, even though a major witness withdrew from the case. The reason then was that was a slim hope that the main prosecution witness could put forward a good and reasonable presentation in court. On that occasion the prosecution service’s confidence in their witness proves founded. Today, in the same circumstances, it is unlikely a case would go forward in the court as the Crown Prosecution Service would be loathe to risk failure with insufficient independent evidence as the core consideration.


  4. A good post and I have similar thoughts on the subject.

    I think a lot of cuts in agencies helping the young unemployed does not help. There is nothing worse than a feeling of no hope.x


    1. It goes with a feeling of powerlessness and frustration, and this has erupted, although I don’t think that justifies the enormous damage that has been done or the behaviour that caused it!


  5. These people clearly have no stake in society….I think this has been the case for a while. A total lack of parental control or parental disinterest allows these children to do as they please. I m sure the youths involved have been raised without any moral


    1. I agree with your first statement, PP, but here there are many good parents who do discipline their kids, who then simply go out and do exactly what they please anyway: and many of the black and Asian parents have either Christian or Muslim moral standards, which the kids have to respect at home, but they seem to kick over the traces once they are outside. It is very difficult to know how to deal with this.


      1. It is difficult to deal with and difficult to understand. I suspect we never will….but if I take a step back and look at the current situation, I see no protest banners, no leaders, just predominantly young people, as young as 13, girls and boys, out after midnight wreaking chaos and appearing to be enjoying themselves.
        Society has changed and social media has made it easy for one person to contact hundreds of people in seconds, hence gangs can form in minutes. This has never been possible before. And the mob rule causes many a young person to behave in ways they normally wouldn t.
        I really do believe that this is happening because it can.
        I don t think young people are any better or worse than they ever have been, I just think todays technology makes this sort of behavior more possible and the police and society will have to find new ways of dealing with it. Sorry….Im rambling, but its a tricky


      2. I agree, social networking means that people can coalesce more quickly than ever before: but it also means that the police, in theory, are able to get on top of it more quickly. It seems that, round here, they just don’t have the numbers to deal with the looters. As you say, the gangs are doing it just because they can, and it’s two fingers to authority and the rest of society.


      3. Yes, a heavier police presence is required, apparently an increase of 10k officers tonight, one wonders what took so long…..

        It started here in Liverpool last night, Im hoping it doesnt continue but I have a horrible feeling that other cites like Manchester and Leeds will follow suite, I think they are trying to out do each other. I pray I m


      4. I’ve just been saying to Menhir, that Hub is back from visiting a couple of police stations. The police have been cautious, because of the many accusations in the past that they have been ‘heavy-handed’ and have incited the violence. He got the impression, however, that if there is trouble tonight the response may be more robust.

        Do hope it doesn’t come your way, PP.


  6. Gang warfare bored people with no jobs, no interests in anything worth while,rebellion agains the goverment cuts due to having an easy ride for so long, all kinds of things.xx


  7. Good Post Gilly…However repulsed we may be by such ‘senseless’….irrational devastation….Let us NEVER forget to address the underlying causes of Discontent…. πŸ™„ 😦


      1. I’m not sure whether my comment infers an excuse..Violence should always be inexcusable…even IF it is perpetrated by the Bushes, the Blairs or, even the this world….;)


  8. These riots are dreadful I think though this is not an excuse for the rioting that alot of these kids dont have father figures in their lives to guide them and the mothers clearly dont seem to have any control over their children they are out of control this rioting is all about greed not about the lad who was shot 😦


    1. It would seem so. Our chief of police was on TV last night asking parents to be sure of where their children were. He said that kids spectating were actually preventing the police from dealing with the rioters.


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