A report looking into the causes of last year’s riots has identified “500,000 forgotten families,” where a lack of support and opportunities led to a widespread sense of hopelessness among young people.
The Riots Communities and Victims Panel’s report, which was leaked by Sky News earlier today, also cites poor parenting, an inability to prevent re-offending, rampant materialism and a lack of confidence in police as the major causes of five days of rioting across England last August.
Responding to the report’s leak, Chair of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel Darra Singh said: “We are disappointed that Sky News has leaked contents from a near final version of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel’s final report, which is due to be published tomorrow and is still being finalised.
“Our remit was to give a voice to the communities and victims of the August riots. This leak may have impacted on our ability to ensure they receive the widest possible audience.”
The report suggests schools which fail to teach pupils to read and write should be fined. It claims around a fifth of school leavers have the literacy skills of an 11-year-old or younger, leaving many with no stake in society and no reason to stay out of trouble.
The report says schools should assist young people in building character and reaching their potential, as well as helping them to avoid making bad decisions, such as rioting. It claims introducing fines, which would then be reinvested in education, would “significantly reduce” the risk of future riots on the scale of those last August.
A desire for designer brands was identified as another major reason for young people to become involved in the disturbances. Half of all recorded offences were acquisitive, with the riots being charaterised by opportunistic looting that was "very much targeted at brands".
The report also called for the Advertising Standards Authority to target youth-orientated advertising and branding techniques in its new school education programme. The overall goal is "to raise resilience among children". It also called on the Government to "appoint an independent champion to manage a dialogue between Government and big brands, to further this debate".
Some 200 people in each of the six areas affected by the riots were polled over the phone between February 14 and 22.
The report found up to 15,000 people, most aged under 24, actively took part in the riots, with "countless more bystanders observing". Five people died, some 5,000 crimes were recorded, and the economy is thought to have lost £0.5 billion.