Monday 06 August 2012
It was a year ago that one of the most devastating events of last summer engulfed much of London and the UK.
Last summer's riots in which scenes of burning buildings, cars aflame and stripped-out shops were beamed on television screens and written in newspapers to audiences around the world.
For five days London and the UK were under siege as continuous violence swept across the nation.
Between 6-10 August 2012, more than 5,000 crimes were committed across 22 police force areas at an estimated cost of £300 million in damage and lost revenue in the retail sector alone.
A year after the devastating event, the University's Ealing Law School has sought to answer some of the most prominent questions following this shocking event.
Using data from the Ministry of Justice, Professor Malcolm Davies, Head of the Ealing Law School, has researched the profile of those who engaged in riot related behaviour and has made some staggering discoveries.
76% of those who appeared before the courts by 28 September 2011 had a previous conviction or caution. Those with a previous record of offending they had on average 14 previous offences per individual amounting to 20,000 previous offences.
Professor Davies also found from the Ministry of Justice data of 28 June 2012 that those arrested showed a predictable pattern of rioter profile:
• 89% were male, younger than the normal population with just over half aged under 21
• 27% were aged between 10-17 years
• 26% between 18-20,
• 41% were aged 21 to 39,
• 6% were aged above 40.
It becomes apparent as to why so many of these individuals engaged in riot related crime. A question that Donley Jack, Course Leader of Criminology at the University's Ealing Law School has provided insight into.
He has identified seven key observations on some of the causes of the riots which included opportunism, consumerism, race relations and social media all playing their part in last year's event.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Malcolm Davies, Head of the Ealing Law School, said:
'Visitors have come from around the world to enjoy the wonderful spirit of the London Olympic Games; but it is only a year since Londoners felt frightened of going onto the streets of their communities and felt shame as the image of a young Malaysian boy visitor was seen around the world being subject to the act of callow thugs, after he had already been violently attacked and had his bike stolen.
Whatever the background and motives of those who took part in the riots of last summer, they committed criminal acts that collectively threatened the everyday world of young and old, resident and visitor, alike. The riots cost millions, but worse they threatened the sense of personal security of those close to the scene of the riots, as we were in Ealing, but it also instilled fear and anxiety across the country. Some criminologists and civil liberty pressure groups complained that the response to these events was an example of an overreaction and a moral panic. It is difficult to see how else to respond to widespread acts of vandalism, looting, arson, robbery and violence leading in some cases to death.
I think it is important as a society to ensure that the spirit of the Olympics becomes an enduring pleasurable memory of this year, but that we also learn the lesson of the riots of last year and come to appreciate that law and order is not an empty slogan.
View the full report from Professor Malcolm Davies (pdf, 600kb) and read more from Donley Jack (pdf, 564kb).