Riots 'likely to happen again' unless action is taken to heal divisions between teenagers and authorities, panel predicts


Riots like those which rocked England last year are likely to happen again in the future unless action is taken to heal the divisions between teenagers and the authorities, according to a panel of young people who have been looking into the impacts of the disturbances.

The group said that another incident like the shooting of Mark Duggan or an issue like the tuition fees row could spark off another spate of disturbances because, they said, “the mindset cannot be changed in the course of one government”. But, they said, the situation seemed to have calmed for now.

The panel, which has been working with the Children’s Society, said that things were improving but some of the scars of last year’s riots were still visible in their own communities.

“I know my area has developed a lot over the past year, it has become a really nice place, it is more like a tourist attraction now. It is really nice, things are getting better,” said Beatrice Fowowe, 14, from Woolwich in south east London.

But she added: “There are shops which were looted and burned out which have not been repaired, I don’t know if they ever will be repaired.”

The group said they would like to see more activities for young people, which are threatened by government cuts, an improvement in their relationship with police and politicians and a more accurate portrayal in the media, all of which could help prevent similar disturbances.

A survey they conducted found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that their peers thought the two main drivers behind the riots were the shooting of Mr Duggan and the wider state of mistrust between the police and young people. But the panel added that, while many of the people involved in the riots were genuinely angry, they thought their involvement was born more out of opportunism, bolstered by their sense of injustice.

Kim Emenike, 13, said: “People just wanted to riot, it had little to do with the government, I don’t think people were thinking about the fees issue during the riots.” Rasheeda Miller said, a 14-year-old panel-member, said: “It all added to their excuse, the anger added to the reasons behind the rioting.”

Beatrice Fowowe added that she believed that young people suffered from unfairly negative coverage in the media. “I feel that young people are portrayed in quite a negative way. When young people do positive things you don't seem to hear about them in the media. It is only negative things,” she said.

Speaking after the conference, which took place this morning, Elaine Hindal, of the Children’s Society, said the organisation could see “no evidence” to suggest a repeat of the disorder on the streets of London and other major cities last August was imminent.

But she said there was concern over the impact of cuts on projects designed to help boost self-esteem and resilience among young people.

“We are concerned that in the current climate we are seeing some examples of where services are being cut back, they are preventative services, particularly for adolescents, that will help them develop self-esteem and resilience and help support them in positive community activities,” she said.

Asked about whether the riots could be repeated, she said: “We do not see that at the moment. I do not think we have got any evidence to suggest that would be the case but I think we were all taken by surprise by what happened last year.

“I think we always have to be alert to that possibility but there is no evidence that we have seen to suggest that is the case.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own