Boy, 11, sentenced over riots theft

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The Independent Online

An 11-year-old boy stole from a department store during London's riots just days after he had been sentenced for arson and criminal damage, a court heard today.

The boy - the youngest prosecuted in the capital so far over the riots - admitted taking a bin less than a week after being punished for trying to start a fire on a bus.

The case came as details of an independent investigation into the causes of rioting that blighted the capital were announced today.

The 11-year-old, who cannot be named, was handed an 18-month youth rehabilitation order at Havering Magistrates' Court in Essex and was told that his local authority will dictate where he lives for the next six months.

The court heard the boy, from Romford, Essex, stole a bin worth £50 from Debenhams in the town on August 8 after the windows of the store were smashed by looters.

He was already under a referral order, put in place on August 3 for an incident on July 18 when he cut the seats of a bus with a craft knife and tried to set fire to the exposed foam.

When the driver would not let him off, the boy threw a stone at the exit door of the route 174 bus and then kicked a hole in the shattered glass so he could jump out while it was still moving.

Scotland Yard said he is the youngest rioter in the capital to face prosecution.

The Met today said it had made a total of 2,124 arrests relating to the disorder, of which 455 were juveniles.

The 11-year-old's court appearance came as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that a former chief executive of a London borough hit by some of the worst scenes of rioting is to lead the independent investigation into its causes.

Darra Singh, chief executive of Job Centre Plus and the former chief executive of Ealing - which suffered badly in the disturbances - and Luton councils, will chair the panel that aims to give communities and victims a voice over what happened.

The panel will deliver early findings by November and present a final report by March 2012 to Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Clegg said: "Only by listening to people who have been affected by the riots - the victims - will we ever be able to move on and rebuild for the long-term. This is not just about individuals, but entire communities.

"This will be a grass roots review - we want to know what happened at street level, not from afar and only from the perspective of those affected."

Mr Singh added: "This is an important opportunity. I think it is vital that we hear straight from individuals and communities that have been affected directly and indirectly by the riots.

"Along with the other panel members, I am looking forward to hearing their views on the causes and their ideas on how similar events can be prevented in future."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said politicians owed it to communities to listen to them "about why it happened and look at the deeper causes of the criminal behaviour".

"The temptation for politicians is to reach for simplistic solutions to the issues we face as a society," he said.

"That would be a dereliction of duty to the vast majority of law-abiding people in those communities.

"After going out and understanding the point of view of those on the ground, the task of this commission is to make recommendations which can help tackle the complex causes of what we saw."

:: In Birmingham, two men arrested by police investigating the murders of three men hit by a car while protecting shops and homes from looters faced more questioning today.

West Midlands Police arrested the men, aged 29 and 30 and both from Birmingham, yesterday on suspicion of murdering Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, in the early hours of August 10 during riots in the Winson Green area of the city.

Liam Young, 28, Ian Beckford, 30, Joshua Donald, 26, Adam King, 23, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named, have already been charged with murder and have been remanded in custody.