2011 England riots
|2011 England Riots|
Firefighters douse a shop and flats destroyed by arson during the initial rioting in Tottenham, London
|Date||6 to 11 August 2011 (although incidents remained ongoing after this period)|
|Location||Several districts of London, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Bristol and several other areas.|
|Methods||Rioting, looting, arson, mugging, assault, murder|
|Reported fatalities and injuries|
16+ members of public injured
186 police officers, 3 Police Community Support Officers as well as 5 police dogs injured
Between 6 and 11 August 2011, thousands of people rioted in several London boroughs and in cities and towns across England. The resulting chaos generated looting, arson, and mass deployment of police. The events were also called "BlackBerry riots" because people used mobile devices and social media to organise.
Disturbances began on 6 August 2011, after a protest in Tottenham following the death of Mark Duggan, a local who was shot dead by police on 4 August 2011. Protesters became angry after police restrained a sixteen-year-old girl who was alleged to have been acting in an aggressive and disorderly manner. Several violent clashes with police, along with the destruction of police vehicles, magistrates' court, a double-decker bus, many civilian homes and businesses, began gaining attention from the media. Overnight, looting took place in Tottenham Hale Retail Park and nearby Wood Green.
The following days saw similar scenes in other parts of London, with the most rioting taking place in Hackney, Brixton, Chingford, Walthamstow, Peckham, Enfield, Battersea, Croydon, Ealing, Barking, Lewisham and East Ham. From 8 until 10 August, other cities in England including Birmingham, Bristol, and Manchester, along with several towns, saw what was described by the media as "copycat violence". A fire destroyed a former nightclub in Portsmouth on 9 August, the cause of the fire has not been publicly released although Hampshire Police have stated there was nothing to suggest it was related to the riots.
British Prime Minister David Cameron returned from his holiday in Italy and other government and opposition leaders also came back from their holidays to attend to the matter. All police leave was cancelled and Parliament was recalled on 11 August to debate the situation.
As of 15 August, about 3,100 people had been arrested, of whom more than 1,000 had been charged.[update] Arrests, charges and court proceedings continue. Initially, courts sat for extended hours. There were a total 3,443 crimes across London linked to the disorder. Emergency calls on Monday night saw a 300% increase, from 5,400 normally to 20,800. Along with the five deaths, at least 16 others were injured[update] as a direct result of related violent acts. An estimated £200 million worth of property damage was incurred, and local economic activity was significantly compromised.
The riots have generated significant ongoing debate among political, social and academic figures about the causes and context in which they happened. Attributions for the rioters' behaviour include structural factors such as racism, classism, and economic decline, as well as cultural factors like criminality, hooliganism, breakdown of social morality, and gang culture.
- 1 Police shooting of Mark Duggan
- 2 Riots
- 3 Social media
- 4 Effects
- 5 Reactions
- 6 Suggested contributory factors
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
- 10 Sources
Police shooting of Mark Duggan
On 4 August 2011, a police officer shot and killed 29-year-old Mark Duggan during a traffic stop on the Ferry Lane bridge next to Tottenham Hale station. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that the planned arrest was part of Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime within the black community. The incident had been referred to the IPCC, which is standard practice if death or serious injury follows police contact.
After the shooting, the media widely reported that a bullet was found embedded in a police radio, implying that Duggan fired on the police. Friends and relatives of Duggan said that he was unarmed. The police later revealed that initial ballistics tests on the bullet recovered from the police radio indicate that it was a "very distinct" police issue hollow-point bullet. The IPCC later stated that a loaded Bruni BBM blank-firing pistol, converted to fire live ammunition, was recovered from the scene. It was wrapped in a sock and there was no evidence that it had been fired.
On 13 August, the Independent Police Complaints Commission admitted that Duggan did not open fire, stating, "It seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to [wrongly] believe that shots were exchanged". The bullet that had lodged in an officer's radio is believed to have been an overpenetration, having passed through Duggan's body.
At lunchtime on 6 August 7 hours before the march and subsequent riot took place, a meeting was called by police between local community leaders, councillors and members of police advisory groups. In this meeting, police were warned several times that there could possibly be another riot similar to the Broadwater Farm riot of 1985 if local concerns regarding the death were not addressed.
On 6 August a protest was held, initially peacefully, beginning at Broadwater Farm and finishing at Tottenham police station. The protest was organised by friends and relatives of Duggan to demand justice for the family. Rioting occurred shortly after about 120 people marched from the Broadwater Farm estate to Tottenham Police Station via the High Road. The group of some 300 people demanded that a senior local police officer come out to speak to them. When Chief Inspector Ade Adelekan arrived, he was met with boos and cries of "murderer", "Uncle Tom" and "coconut". The crowd stayed in front of the police station hours longer than they originally planned because they were not satisfied with the seniority of the officers available at the time. Violence broke out after a sixteen-year-old girl provoked the officers, throwing a champagne bottle at them. Police swarmed the girl and allegedly injured her, upsetting the crowd and inciting larger conflict.
6 August peaceful march in Tottenham was followed by rioting and looting, first in Tottenham and later in Tottenham Hale retail park. The spread of news and rumours about the previous evening's disturbances in Tottenham sparked riots during the night of 7 August in the London districts of Brixton, Enfield, Islington and Wood Green and in Oxford Circus in the centre of London.
The morning of 8 August was quiet, but by evening areas across London were affected by widespread looting, arson and violence, with significant outbreaks in parts of Battersea, Brixton, Bromley, Camden, Chingford Mount, Croydon, Ealing, East Ham, Hackney, Harrow, Lewisham, Peckham, Stratford, Waltham Forest, Woolwich, and Woodgreen. A man was found shot in Croydon, and died later in hospital. Another man who had been assaulted in Ealing died in hospital on 11 August. Similar riots were reported outside London – notably in Birmingham, Bristol, Gloucester, Gillingham and Nottingham.
Following a greatly increased police presence, London was quiet on 9 August, but rioting continued in Birmingham (where, according to the police account, eleven shots were fired at police, including at a police helicopter, and petrol bombs thrown at officers) and Nottingham and spread to Leicester, parts of the West Midlands and to parts of Greater Manchester and Merseyside in the north-west of England. On 10 August, London remained quiet while hundreds of arrests were being made by the police. Three men were killed in Birmingham in a hit-and-run incident related to the disturbances. Looting and violence continued in two locations around Manchester and Liverpool.
Throughout the rioting, many of the rioters failed to cover their faces. Some posed for pictures with stolen goods, posting them on social-networking sites.
Although London employs CCTV cameras to monitor crime and large events, reports indicate that citizen footage contributed more to capturing looters in action than the police force. Beyond the CCTVs, looters were filmed and photographed with their faces visible. Police forces and investigators used websites like Flickr to find galleries of the looters to help solve and prevent cases of vandalism and further damage.
Facebook pages were also created to identify looters.
Several interactive maps were implemented in the Google Maps website that showed satellite views of what was happening in the streets during the rioting. James Cridland, the managing director of the free media resources, created a Google Map that tracked verified locations of rioting. Channel 4 News also had similar maps that progressively tracked the damage in the streets as well. News channels also were able to utilise this public service to capture live footage on the streets and inform citizens of dangerous or crowded areas.
According to an online CBC News article a teacher at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Megan Boler, explained that social media is used as a tool of democracy to take down corrupt regimes, but not in the case of the 2011 England riots:
- "Here it's not about a dictator. Here the issue is the corporation as a representative symbol. These things always spiral off into hitting the mother and pop stores, which is unfortunate."
British officials believe that social media, particularly BlackBerry Messenger, helped to organise rioters in Britain, but there are experts who say that such tools are now a fact of life and simply alternative forms of communication – whether for good or for evil.
- "It's ubiquitous technology," Boler says of Facebook, Twitter, email and smartphones. "It's everywhere."
There were reports that the BlackBerry Messenger service was used by looters to organise their activities, and that inflammatory and inaccurate accounts of Mark Duggan's killing on social media sites may have incited disturbances. One of the many messages shared between users was the following:
- "Everyone in edmonton enfield wood green everywhere in north link up at enfield town station at 4 o clock sharp!!!!," it began. "Start leaving ur yards n linking up with your niggas. Fuck da feds, bring your ballys and your bags trollys, cars vans, hammers the lot!!"
Supporting this is a journalist from The Guardian named Juliette Garside, who explains that
- "The BlackBerry Messenger service is claimed to have played a key role in helping rioters organise the violence that has swept the country since trouble began in Tottenham on Friday, with gangs using the service to arrange the times and locations of looting. However, BBM was also used by the police to track down rioters with consent from Research in Motion (RIM) [Now known as Blackberry Ltd] , the company that created BBM"
- The Canadian company added: "We comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and co-operate fully with the Home Office and UK police forces," Blackberry said in a statement on Monday."
Increased connectivity among individuals has led to a greater ability to organise and execute massive gatherings. This has not occurred only with the riots in England, but with other collective gatherings such as the Arab Spring and the Egyptian revolution of 2011. However, in this instance, one specific mobile phone technology played an important role. Blackberry Messenger, commonly referred to as BBM, acted as a preferred method of communication during the riots. Rioters had the ability to instantly contact specific individuals or broadcast a message to an entire contact list, spreading information about where the riots were currently taking place, safe routes along roadways to travel, and police activity. Blackberry's messaging service was well suited for this form of networking for a variety of reasons. Firstly, many rioters owned a Blackberry and had access to its instant messaging service, as Blackberry mobile devices control twenty-four percent of the total market and thirty-seven percent of the teen market. In addition, messages are received instantly, allowing for information to spread quickly throughout large masses of people. Finally, while Blackberry has become increasingly popular among teenagers, the technology was originally intended for business communication. As a result, a secure server allows messages to pass back and forth without the risk of public access; since this was the major form of communication, it was difficult for the authorities to track the movements of the rioters, allowing them to gather with less interference.
Much like BBM, the mobility of technology shaped the London riots. The origins of the riots was communication through BBM and a search for BBM on Twitter supports this. During the Tottenham riots of 1985, citizens had to head into a public place to voice their message. Yet, with access to Twitter as a communication medium, social media was used to rapidly spread messages of the riots.
Radio 4 criticised Twitter's contribution to the riots through greed and criminality. The Daily Telegraph described Twitter as being an outlet for promoting gang violence. Evidence shows that Twitter is powerful because tweets of individuals were inspired by news content. However, an article in Time magazine suggested BlackBerry messenger was more to blame.
During the riots, Twitter accounted for four out of every 170 UK internet visits on 8 August. As shown in the London riots, Twitter users send a message to millions. Data collected from the London riots displayed Twitter as a tool to support one's point and Tweets made popular by newsworthy people. Twitter is an effective communication medium with its simple tools such as re-tweeting and hashtags, making it effortless for users to spread a message. The hashtag system allows people to band together under a common cause without having previously met. In addition, citizens also used Twitter to band together, after the destruction. The aftermath of the riots resulted in a disrupted city, yet Twitter was further used to maintain peace, with hashtags including #riotcleanup. Another prominent tool includes retweeting and having one clear message heard. Evidence shows that people were tweeting and re-tweeting news related to the riots, not original content.
Other than BlackBerry Messenger and social networking sites, mobile phone operators T-Mobile and Orange prioritised police requests for information about the phones that were used to plan the riots that hit British cities. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, phone companies were required to hand over data about the locations calls were made from, the owners of phones, and lists of calls made to and from a particular handset.
Deaths and injuries
26-year-old Trevor Ellis, of Brixton Hill, died following a shooting in Croydon, South London. His family denied reports that Ellis, who had come from the Brixton area to Croydon with a group of friends, had been involved in looting. Seven people have been arrested on suspicion of his murder, but none had been charged as of 15 March 2012.
Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir
On 10 August, in Winson Green, Birmingham, three men – Haroon Jahan, 21 and brothers Shahzad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31 – were killed in a hit-and-run incident while attempting to protect their neighbourhood from rioters and looters. On 19 April 2012, a trial of eight men, each arraigned on three counts of murder, was held in the Crown Court at Birmingham before Mr Justice Flaux; the jury acquitted all eight defendants on all charges.
Richard Mannington Bowes
Bowes was attacked by members of a mob on 8 August 2011, while attempting to extinguish a fire that had been deliberately started in industrial bins on Spring Bridge Road. The attack inflicted severe head injuries which resulted in a coma. The assault was caught on CCTV and reportedly filmed on mobile phones by associates of the alleged assailant. The attack on Bowes was witnessed by several police officers, but due to the number of rioters they were unable to come to his aid until riot squad officers pushed back the rioters while being attacked to reach Bowes. A line of officers then held back the rioters as paramedics arrived. Bowes's wallet and phone had been stolen, and police faced difficulty in identifying him. He died of his injuries in St Mary's Hospital on 11 August 2011 after being removed from life support.
Many tributes were paid to Bowes, including Ealing Council who flew the Union Flag at half-mast over its town hall and announced the launch of a relief fund in his name, and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who described him as a hero.
A 16 year old male, later named as Darrell Desuze, who lives in Hounslow was charged with murdering Bowes, violent disorder and four burglaries. He appeared at Croydon Magistrates' Court on 16 August 2011, where he was remanded in custody until his appearance at the Central Criminal Court on 18 August 2011. His 31-year-old mother Lavinia Desuze was charged with perverting the course of justice. On 12 March 2012 at the Crown Court at Inner London, Darrel Desuze pleaded guilty to manslaughter, after previously pleading guilty to burglary and violent disorder. The following day the Crown withdrew the murder charge against him. After a trial at the Crown Court at Inner London before Mr Justice Saunders and a jury, Lavinia Desuze was convicted of perverting the course of justice after she destroyed the clothing her son wore on the day of the death. On 17 April 2012, Mr Justice Saunders sentenced Darrell Desuze to detention for a term of eight years, and Lavinia Desuze to imprisonment for eighteen months.
In Barking, East London, 20-year-old Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli was beaten and then robbed twice by looters emptying his rucksack. Footage of the second mugging, which appears to show the second set of muggers pretend to help him then proceed to ransack his rucksack, was uploaded onto YouTube. He suffered a broken jaw, requiring surgery. On 2 March 2012, two men, John Kafunda of Ilford and Reece Donovan of Romford, were found guilty of the robbery of Rossli and also violent disorder by a jury at Wood Green Crown Court.
In Chingford, East London, three police officers were hit by a car used as a getaway vehicle by a group who looted the Aristocrat store on Chingford Mount Road. Two of the officers were seriously injured and taken to hospital.
Ten firefighters were injured as the London Fire Brigade dealt with over 100 serious fires caused by the disturbances. The LFB also reported that eight of its fire engines had their windscreens smashed and that two fire cars were attacked.
Property and business damage
Vehicles, homes and shops were attacked and set alight. At least 100 homes were destroyed in the arson and looting. Shopkeepers estimated the damages in their Tottenham Hale and Tottenham branches at several million pounds. The riots caused the irretrievable loss of heritage architecture. It was estimated that retailers lost at least 30,000 trading hours.
On 8 August 2011, a Sony DADC warehouse in Enfield at Enfield Lock, which also acted as the primary distribution centre for independent music distributor PIAS Entertainment Group, was destroyed by fire. Initially, because millions of items of stock were lost, including most of PIAS's inventory, it was thought that long-term damage to the British independent music industry might result. As of 18 August 2011[update], PIAS confirmed that their operations are back to normal. On 11 August 2011, London police reported that they had arrested three teenagers in connection with the warehouse fire.
The Financial Times reported that an analysis showed that 48,000 local businesses – shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs – had suffered financial losses as a result of the looting and rioting in English streets.
Personal attacks and thefts
A 15-year-old was accused in August 2011 of raping a 13-year-old girl while the riots were taking place. The prosecution described the incident as being geographically "close" to the riots.
Twenty-year-old student Asyraf Haziq was attacked while cycling along Queen's Road in Barking. The prosecution said that the victim was punched in the face by one of a group of 100 youths. His bike, PlayStation Portable and mobile phone were stolen. In September 2011, an accusation of robbery was made against 24-year-old Reece Donovan. The same month, a 17-year-old was accused in court of breaking the victim's jaw with an unprovoked punch. In February 2012 John Kafunda and Reece Donovan were convicted of stealing from Rossli, after being identified on camera pretending to help him.
Four London buses were set on fire during the riots.
- Evening of 6 August: Arriva London North DAF DB250L/Alexander ALX400 double decker DLA284 (Y484 UGC) was destroyed on Tottenham High Road.
- Evening of 8 August: Abellio London Dennis Trident/Alexander ALX400 double decker 9755 (YN51 KVM) was destroyed at Reeves Corner, Croydon.
- Late afternoon of 8 August: Go Ahead London Central Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2 double decker WVL302 was set alight in Peckham, but not destroyed. This bus has been rebuilt and re-entered service at New Cross bus garage on 31 May 2012(?).
- Late afternoon of 8 August: First Capital Dennis Dart SLF/Caetano Nimbus single decker DMC41496 (LK03 NMF) was set alight at Dalston, but not destroyed.
Many other London buses were damaged with broken windows etc.
On 9 August, Croydon's Tramlink was partly shut down due to damage inflicted along its route. Transport for London, London Overground and London Underground shut Barking, Peckham Rye and Harrow-on-the-Hill and Hackney Central stations. The train operating company Southern later announced that trains were not stopping at many stations in south London. National Express Coaches stopped serving Wolverhampton and suburban stops in the Birmingham area (but not Birmingham Coach Station itself) and Manchester (but not Manchester Airport).
Five Football League Cup games due to be played on 9 and 10 August were postponed after requests from police due to the riots. The games at Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace and West Ham United were all postponed. There was also uncertainty as to the Third Test cricket match between India and England, at Edgbaston in Birmingham, but the match was played.
The international football friendly match between England and the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium due to take place on 10 August was cancelled, as well as the international friendly between Ghana and Nigeria scheduled for 9 August at Vicarage Road, Watford.
Tottenham Hotspur's opening game of the 2011–12 Premier League season against Everton on 13 August was postponed. The League Two game between Cheltenham Town and Swindon Town, due to be played the same day, was also initially postponed until further consultation allowed Gloucestershire Police to provide the required resources.
The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn presented a piece of new writing, The Riots by Gillian Slovo that looked into the events over those days in August and thoughts and opinions of a range of people directly involved and politicians. It transferred to the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, about 400m from where the Mark Duggan protest took place, on 5 January 2012, and is due to run until 15 January. The piece attempts to show a non-biased look into the events, allowing audience members to hear different views into why it happened and what could have and should now be done. The piece includes community leaders Stafford Scott and Martin Sylvester Brown, police constables on duty that night and a former resident of the Carpet-Right building, the burned remains now providing a highly poignant reminder of the events. They are combined with the views of Diane Abbott, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Pastor Nims Obunge. It was received well by all critics, with 4 stars from all major press including The Guardian.
Following the initial disorder in Tottenham, the constituency Labour MP David Lammy appealed for calm, saying that "true justice can only follow a thorough investigation of the facts" and that Tottenham had had its "heart ripped out" by the riots. He said that rioters were not representative of the local community as a whole and insisted that the Independent Police Complaints Commission must fully establish the circumstances of Mark Duggan's death. Lammy voiced concerns that the EDL and BNP were playing on the London riots and people's fears to advance their political motives.
Streatham's Labour MP Chuka Umunna condemned the violence in Brixton and Tottenham. Umunna called for the BlackBerry Messenger service, used by some of the rioters to co-ordinate their activities, to be "temporarily disabled" between 6 pm and 6 am BST.
John Randall, the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip said: "It’s a small minority of people causing the trouble. The events in Ealing brought it home, it’s just down the Uxbridge Road." Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott called for the introduction of a curfew.
Newark MP Colonel Patrick Mercer called for the deployment of water cannon. In December 2010 Theresa May, the Home Secretary, had said that the deployment of water cannon by police forces on the British mainland was an operational decision which had been "resisted until now by senior police officers." On 9 August 2011, May rejected their use and said: "The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities." Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, said "The issue of water cannon would be very useful given the level of arson we are seeing here." Scotland Yard said officers did not have any water cannon and if their use was approved they would have to be brought over from Northern Ireland.
May said: "I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham... Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order." She returned to the UK from holiday early to meet senior police officials on 8 August.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office added: "The rioting in Tottenham last night was utterly unacceptable. There is no justification for the aggression the police and the public faced, or for the damage to property."
London's mayor, Boris Johnson, who cut short a holiday in Canada to return to the UK on 9 August, said: "I'm appalled at the scenes of violence and destruction in Tottenham" whilst his deputy Kit Malthouse told a Sky News reporter that "criminal elements were to blame for the trouble."
Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the "sickening scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing" and told rioters "You will feel the full force of the law. And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment."
In a strongly worded criticism of what he deems to be a misplaced "hyper-sensitivity about race", dating back to the Macpherson Report of 1999, Civitas director David Green attributed the reluctance by police to use force to a fear of disciplinary action. He said that "officers in charge of a riot think it safer to wait for orders from the top".
The city councils of Manchester and Salford are reported to be investigating their powers for ways of evicting tenants if they, or their children, have been involved in violence or looting in their cities. The London Borough of Greenwich also stated on its website: "We shall seek the eviction of anyone living in council property if they are found to have been engaged in criminal acts."
Several countries issued warnings advising caution to travellers visiting the United Kingdom during the riots.
Commentators likened the riots to the Broadwater Farm riot of 1985, during which a police officer, Keith Blakelock, was murdered. The disturbances were preceded by calls for better oversight of the Metropolitan Police, repeating observations which go back to the death of Stephen Lawrence and the New Cross Fire. In April 2011 there was a large nonviolent march to Scotland Yard as a result of the death of Smiley Culture. The very widespread scale of the violence prompted comparisons with the Gordon Riots of 1780.
The Sun called the scenes "shameful" and lamented that "[w]ith the London Olympics less than a year away, our reputation is being damaged at the worst moment". It added: "This is anarchy, pure and simple. And it presents a serious threat to life and property."
The Daily Telegraph's editorial said: "What we have experienced in London and elsewhere since Saturday night is a wholly new phenomenon: violent disorder whose sole intent is criminal... In such circumstances, there can be only one response if the law-abiding majority is to be protected: the thugs must be taught to respect the law of the land the hard way."
The Telegraph also reported: "Tottenham riots: police let gangs run riot and loot: Britain’s biggest police force is facing criticism after it let looters run riot in north London for almost 12 hours..."
The Guardian called on the public to back the police: "... Britain's 2011 riots have become a defining contest between disorder and order. In that contest, important caveats notwithstanding, there is only one right side to be on. The attacks, the destruction, the criminality and the reign of fear must be stopped. The rule of law in the cities of Britain must not only be defended against delinquent destruction. It must also be enforced."
During the height of the riots, The Guardian was accused of anti-Semitic incitement by the media monitoring organisation, Comment Is Free Watch (CiFW), after Guardian journalist Paul Lewis singled out Hasidic Jewish residents who were not involved in the rioting. The content of his report stated, "The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10….But families and other local residents, including some from Tottenham's Hasidic Jewish community, also gathered to watch and jeer at police." CIFW responded by condemning the newspaper saying, "A 1,800 Guardian report doesn't mention the race, ethnicity, or religion of the rioters, somehow found it pertinent to note that some of those who gathered to jeer police were, allegedly, Hasidic Jews." As a result of the negative publicity, The Guardian revised the story.
In its 9 August leading article, The Independent said the police's handling of Mark Duggan's death "looks to have been poor", and that there is "context of mistrust of the police here." The paper added that "it is spurious to draw a connection between that disaffection [by the inner-city youth] and specific outbreaks of violence of the sort we have seen in recent days."
Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail disputed the idea that the events were riots on the basis that they were fundamentally apolitical. He further stated: "This is an equal-opportunity crime wave. The lawbreakers are not from any distinct ethnic group, and attempts to explain this behaviour on these ground are baseless and poisonous."
Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, in which he blamed the "sense of entitlement" that he sees as being common among Britain's youth as a cause for the riots, and said that British youth are today among "the most unpleasant and violent in the world" as a result.
Some journalists made comparisons between these riots and the 2005 riots in France. In both cases, the unrest started with the death of a young person during a confrontation with the police. In fact, a television report by France 2, broadcast in November 2005, showed a visit by a delegation from Évry (just outside Paris) to Tottenham, with the report calling "Tottenham part of London 'regularly shaken by riots' in earlier decades, where 'a lot of money was invested' and 'the promotion of ethnic minorities', had been made a priority."
Many people called for the government to urge the police to deploy anti-riot methods often used outside Great Britain, such as water cannon and baton rounds (which have been used in Northern Ireland), the use of which has long been resisted by senior police commanders and politicians.
Pauline Pearce, a 45-year-old woman from Hackney, was filmed close to the rioting, furiously chastising looters over their criminal and selfish behaviour. She is seen holding a walking-stick and gesturing. The resulting Heroine of Hackney video subsequently went viral. Its rapid spread was helped by tweeting from famous people such as newspaper editor Piers Morgan and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Pearce was hailed as a heroine for helping to ease tensions in Hackney; her influence was acknowledged by politicians and the national press. MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, Meg Hillier, has invited Pearce to the Houses of Parliament. Speaking to The Australian newspaper, Pearce described the looting and vandalism as being "heart-breaking" and also contrasted people's relative poverty with expenditure for the Olympic Games. Pearce has since been featured in The Spectator, dismissing David Starkey's view that hip-hop culture was partly to blame for the riots. In September 2011, she was awarded the Team London Award at the annual Peace Awards by Boris Johnson.
On Amazon, sales of baseball bats and truncheons increased significantly overnight. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh stated: "We are already seeing a community kickback. People are angry. This is their neighbourhoods that are at stake." Political commentator and foreign affairs analyst Nile Gardiner suggested that the British Government should prompt a debate which will allow British business owners the right to keep and bear arms.
Three men killed in a hit-and-run incident in Birmingham, Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali, and Abdul Musavir Tariq, were described as heroes for dying while attempting to defend their neighbourhood. Tariq Jahan, the father of 21-year-old victim Haroon Jahan, gave a speech appealing for calm, social unity and an end to the violence, hours after his son's death. Jahan was hailed as a hero and a patriot for helping to ease tensions in Birmingham; his influence was acknowledged by politicians and the national press, receiving an award at the 2011 Pride of Britain Awards. Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said of him: "Uncomplaining, in control of his emotions, Tariq Jahan reminds us of what it means to be British." The Financial Times described Jahan as eloquent and inspiring, and said "His selfless intervention contrasted with the rapacious self-interest of the looters, and was a timely reminder of the obligations of community."
Tens of thousands of users of social networking sites coordinated clean-up operations of their local shopping areas and streets. Social media sites Twitter and Facebook were also used for reporting information on the riots and to co-ordinate a voluntary citizens' operation to clear up riot-hit areas. In Clapham Junction, dozens of volunteers carrying brooms turned out to assist with clean-up efforts. On Facebook, over 900,000 people joined a group entitled 'Supporting the Met Police against the London rioters'.
Manchester City Councillor Pat Karney, the city centre spokesperson for Manchester City Council, said: "The true Mancunian civic spirit has been shown in Manchester today." Staff from city centre businesses and Manchester Metropolitan University joined the volunteers, as food outlets gave out free drinks and snacks. There were several fundraising initiatives to help independent business owners re-build their businessess and livelihoods.
A petition was submitted to the UK government proposing that any convicted rioters have their benefit payments cut. This petition has been signed by over 200,000 people.
A petition on the UK government website demanding convicted rioters to be banished to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland was set up in the summer of 2011. The reaction caused a public outcry in Scotland and eventually Westminster offered an apology to Western Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.
By 20:00 on 7 August, the major rioting had spread to Wood Green, but some riot police were on hand. Again, the police did not intervene to stop the looting. The mostly Turkish and Kurdish shop owners along Wood Green, Turnpike Lane and Green Lanes, Harringay, were said to have formed local 'protection units' around their shops.
On 8 and 9 August, people from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Kurdish, Turkish, Sikh and English communities chased down masked youths in several areas of North and East London, including Green Street, Hackney, Haringey, and Tower Hamlets. Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan praised the community for their brave and responsible reactions to the crisis.
On 9 August, vigilantes included English locals in Enfield which included several members of the English Defence League, locals and supporters of Millwall F.C. in Eltham, and the Sikh communities in Southall, East Ham, Ilford, and Romford.
Sangat TV and Sikh Channel urged their viewers to protect Sikh temples after a report that one was attacked in Birmingham. On the night of 9–10 August 2011, following violence, arson and rioting in London, members of the Sikh community in Southall volunteered to stand guard at various city Gurdwaras, with as many as 200 to 300 Sikhs from different age groups gathered in various Gurudwaras across Southall to safeguard their places of worship from rioters. The Sikhs drew praise from Prime Minister David Cameron for this action.
On 10 August in Eltham, police clashed with a bottle-throwing crowd of about 200 vigilantes, including many English Defence League members. It was reported that 50 EDL members joined forces with locals to patrol the streets. That same day, a senior police officer said that some vigilante groups were hampering police operations in London. 90 EDL members also joined vigilantes in Enfield.
Research conducted by the University of Nottingham suggested that race relations in Britain have deteriorated since the riots and that prejudice towards ethnic minorities is on the rise. Groups such as the EDL and the BNP were said to be exploiting the situation. After the hit-and-run incident in Birmingham, in which three Asian men were killed by a black driver, racial tensions between blacks and Asians in Birmingham increased; hostilities were diffused by the public appeals for an end to violence by Tariq Jahan, father of one of the victims.
The effects of black culture were discussed by historian David Starkey in 12 August edition of the BBC's Newsnight TV programme. Starkey singled out the influence of black gangster and rap culture on youths of all races, contrasting contemporary youth patois with the speech patterns of black Tottenham MP David Lammy, who, Starkey asserted, "sounded white". The author Dreda Say Mitchell countered his argument by saying that there is no one single "black culture".
Some commentators remarked on the apparently high proportion of black people involved in the riots and took the view that there was a disproportionately high number of rioters who were black, compared to the overall demographics of the United Kingdom. As the Ministry of Justice has admitted "the group of people brought before the courts is only a subset of all people who took part in the public disorder". In February 2012 a report was published by the Ministry of Justice providing demographic statistics of the people charged over participation the riots up to 1 February 2012 which revealed that 41% of those brought before the courts identified themselves as being from the White group, 39% from the Black ethnic group, 12% from the Mixed ethnic group, 6% the Asian ethnic group, and 2% the Other ethnic group. These figures were disproportionate to the average UK population; however the figures revealed varying demographics in different areas when compared to local populations. For example in Haringey, the figures revealed that 55% of defendants in court over riot-related charges were black, compared to a 17% black population; in Salford, 94% of rioters in court were white, compared to an 88% white population, and 6% of rioters were black, compared to a 2% black population. Additionally, looters from 44 foreign countries were jailed, with Jamaicans representing the largest group.
The Ministry of Justice report also noted that rioters brought before the courts were disproportionately male (90%) and young (26% were aged 10–17, 27% were aged 18–20 and only 5% were aged over 40).
The Metropolitan Police Service launched Operation Withern, an investigation into the events leading up to and during the riots. The operation was led by Detective Superintendent John Sweeney of the Metropolitan Police Service, with detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, specialist investigators from the Public Order Branch, and police support staff. The Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Steve Kavanagh, stated that the number of officers deployed tripled between 6 and 7 August.
The BBC reported that West Midlands riot police officers were issued with plastic bullets to use against looters, but that none were fired. Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Stephen Kavanagh confirmed that police in London were considering using baton rounds against rioters, not previously used by mainland police in public order operations (though they were first approved for use in England and Wales in 2001).
The Metropolitan Police Service has assigned 450 detectives to hunt for rioters and looters. The list of photographed looters has been made available on their website. Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police criticised "unprecedented" criminality. On 10 August, he warned: "Hundreds and hundreds of people, we have your image, we have your face, we have your acts of wanton criminality on film."
According to The Independent, the costs to the Metropolitan Police of policing the disorder and disturbances in London are expected to exceed £34 million. This could be more than their total bill for the policing of all major public disorder events in the year from April 2010 to March 2011.
Arrests and charges
As of 15 August[update] around 3100 people had been arrested, of whom over 1100 had appeared in court. As of 25 August the BBC reported that more than 2,000 people had been arrested in connection with the disorder in London.
It was reported in mid-August that some courts were advised by senior justice clerks to deal harshly with offences committed during the disturbances. The advice was said to tell the courts that they could ignore existing sentencing guidelines and hand down heavy sentences. David Cameron defended the courts for handing out tough sentences, while some Liberal Democrat MPs and civil rights groups criticised some sentences being handed down. Groups of lawyers complained that Crown Prosecutors were opposing bail in more cases than usual.
Trials and sentencing
As of 1 September 2011[update], the BBC report that official Ministry of Justice figures show that of the 1,566 people that have appeared before magistrates on charges connected with the disorder, that 1,027 had been in London, 190 in Greater Manchester, 132 in the West Midlands, 67 in Merseyside and 64 in Nottingham.
Sentences of four years in a Young Offender Institution were given to two men who promoted riots via Facebook. The proposed events in Northwich and Warrington were not attended by any other people. These sentences were affirmed on appeal by the Court of Appeal. Giving the judgment of the court, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Judge, sitting with Sir John Thomas and Lord Justice Leveson, stated that there is "an overwhelming obligation on sentencing courts to do what they can to ensure the protection of the public", that "the imposition of severe sentences, intended to provide both punishment and deterrence, must follow" and that "[t]hose who deliberately participate in disturbances of this magnitude, causing injury and damage and fear to even the most stout-hearted of citizens, and who individually commit further crimes during the course of the riots are committing aggravated crimes". The appeals were dismissed.
On 25 April 2012, the Court of Appeal (Lord Judge CJ, Openshaw & Irwin JJ) increased the sentence imposed by the Crown Court at Inner London on Adam Ahmadzai from four years detention to seven years detention for offences of violent disorder, robbery, burglary and criminal damage committed during the riots on 8 August 2011, after a reference from Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC. The Lord Chief Justice stated that the offences were of the "greatest possible seriousness".
A woman who had not taken part in the riots received five months for receiving a pair of stolen shorts. The sentence was later reduced on appeal. Manchester police used Twitter to celebrate the five-month sentence; they later apologised and removed the tweet. A teenager was freed when prosecutors found evidence he had been wrongly charged with arson. While in prison, his own flat was burned down. The detaining of under-18s without criminal records was criticised by UNICEF in October 2011 for possibly breaching the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In August 2012, 1292 rioters were handed a custodial sentence totalling 1800 years at 16.8 months on an average.
Suggested contributory factors
The causes of the 2011 England riots both immediate and long-term have been the subject of media and academic debate. Several speculations have emerged as to what the likely contributory factors might be for the riots; from socio-economic causes focusing on unemployment and spending cuts, as well as social media, gang culture and criminal opportunism. The House of Commons Home Affairs select committee will begin examining the police response to the riots in late 2011. The leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, has called for a public inquiry into the wider causes of the riots and has stated that his party will set up such an inquiry if the coalition fails to do so. The UK was shaken by worst riots in decades.
A wide-ranging LSE study called Reading the Riots concluded that the major contributory factors were opportunism, perceived social injustice, deprivation, and frustration at the way communities were policed.
A YouGov poll was carried out on 8–9 August 2011 for The Sun asking what those surveyed believed to be the main cause of the riots. In it, 42% of those polled thought "criminal behaviour" to be the main cause, whilst 26% thought "gang culture" was, 8% thought "government cuts" were, 5% thought "unemployment" was, 5% thought "racial tensions" was and 3% thought "poor policing" was. In a ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday, in which the question was "do you agree or disagree with these statements about the recent riots?", 90% of those polled agreed that the "Police should be allowed use [sic] to water cannon to disperse rioters", 90% agreed that "There is no excuse whatsoever for the violent rioting and looting over the last few days", 61% agreed that "Government ministers failed to return to their desks quickly enough from holidays" and 50% agreed that "The Government's response to the economic crisis (e.g. cuts to services, unemployment, reduced education funding) is helping fuel the rioters".
Researchers who study the causes of political instability suggest that the critical common factor is the density of youths. A nation's extent of political unrest, i.e. its vulnerability to riot, war or regime change, is directly associated with the percentage of 15-24-year-olds in its population. They argue that communities with more than 20% of individuals in this age group run the greatest risk of more frequent and more intense political instability. They describe the phenomena as the "youth bulge theory", where the "bulge" refers to the fattening of the population pyramid just before the base of the youngest age groups.
Poor relations with police
The riots in Tottenham after the death of Mark Duggan were initially blamed on poor relations between the police and the black community. Professor Gus John from the University of London has argued that the tactical use of frequent "Stop and search", particularly of young black men, has caused resentment of the police in the black community.
The Guardian's Reading the Riots Survey concluded: "Although rioters expressed a mix of opinions about the disorder, many of those involved said they felt like they were participating in explicitly anti-police riots. They cited "policing" as the most significant cause of the riots, and anger over the police shooting of Mark Duggan, which triggered initial disturbances in Tottenham, was repeatedly mentioned – even outside London."
In 30 August 2008, three years before the 2011 England riots, The Socialist Worker wrote: "Those who have responded to the tragedy of knife crime by calling for police crackdowns ought to take note. The criminalisation of a generation of black youth will undoubtedly lead to explosions of anger in the future, just as it did a generation ago with the riots that swept Britain's inner cities."
Rioters themselves cited exclusion as a reason for their actions. One person, asked by a journalist if rioting was really the best way to accomplish their objectives, responded: "Yes, because if we weren’t rioting, you wouldn’t be talking to us."
Camila Batmanghelidjh writing in The Independent blames social exclusion and social deprivation. Various journalists have identified poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor as causative factors.
In a House of Commons debate on the riots Home Secretary Theresa May stated that the riots were symptomatic of a "wider malaise" including worklessness, illiteracy, and drug abuse but also stated that "Everybody, no matter what their background or circumstances, has the freedom to choose between right and wrong". Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair writing in The Observer, stated that the riots were not caused by a broken society, but due to a group of young, alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour; he added that this is found in virtually every developed nation.
A journalist on Al Jazeera suggested a similarity to the disenfranchisement behind the Arab Spring revolutionary wave of 2011. Links were made to high youth unemployment and general disenfranchisement. A study by The Financial Times published in September 2011 found a strong link between rioting and deprivation.
Christina Odone writing in the Daily Telegraph links the riots to a lack of male role models and argues that "Like the overwhelming majority of youth offenders behind bars, these gang members have one thing in common: no father at home." This has been linked further with England's having the "worst record in family breakdown in Europe".
The spending cuts of the coalition government in the United Kingdom have also been cited as a cause. Ken Livingstone, the Labour Candidate for Mayor of London in 2012 has argued that the "The economic stagnation and cuts being imposed by the Tory government inevitably create social division." Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats political party, made it clear that the government's planned cuts to police budgets will go ahead.
The local government budget had been cut in the past year so Haringey Council, which includes Tottenham and Tottenham Hale, decided to close eight of its 13 youth clubs in 2011, rather than save money through increased efficiency or make cuts in other areas.
Scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, removing of funding for courses where the student already has an equal or lower level qualification and trebling of university tuition fees, combined with high youth unemployment has placed the British youth "between a rock and a hard place" alienating and angering the youth population. Proponents of this argument say that Scottish youth did not riot partly because Scottish students do not have to pay tuition fees.
Unemployment and poverty
David Lammy MP has said that Tottenham has the highest unemployment rate in London and the eighth highest in the United Kingdom. The number of people chasing every one job vacancy in Haringey has been put at 23 and 54 in separate reports, and fears had spread of disorder after youth club closures in recent months.
In a Newsnight discussion on 12 August, historian David Starkey blamed black gangster culture, saying that it had influenced youths of all races. The BBC received nearly 700 complaints about his statement that the "whites have become black".
During riots, on 9 August 2011, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said: "I think this is about sheer criminality. That is what we have seen on the streets. The violence we've seen, the looting we've seen, the thuggery we've seen – this is sheer criminality, and let's make no bones about it." Paul Hobbs, London correspondent for One News said that looters are not politically motivated and called the riots "recreational violence". A Manchester rioter said to a BBC correspondent: "Every time I go into town I just think how the shops got smashed up in 2011 by all of us, I just laugh about it every time I go back in now."
The BBC reported that the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police had stated that he thought that the motivation for rioters targeting the city centre was not anger, but greed.
Moral decay at the top
Daily Telegraph columnist Peter Oborne suggested that moral decay is just as bad at the top of society as it is at the bottom, with the rich and powerful generating anger among the British population. He cited the MPs' expenses scandal, bankers' bonuses, and the phone hacking scandal as setting poor examples. In The Financial Times cartoonist Ingram Pinn depicted a Union Flag being broken through by a looter in a hoodie carrying a stolen box of Adidas trainers, preceded by two men in suits carrying piles of cash, one saying "MP's Expenses" and another "Banker's Bonus".
Failure of the penal system
Kenneth Clarke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, writing in The Guardian, described the riots in part as "an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes". He drew attention to the statistic that almost three-quarters of the adults who had been charged with offences related to the disorder already had a criminal record. Clarke characterised this as the legacy of "a broken penal system", one that did not have a good record for preventing reoffending. He stated he is proposing radical new measures intended to focus on robust punishment and on delivering reductions in reoffending.
Mainstream media relationship with the communities
A conference held in November 2012 and its subsequent report by Dr Leah Bassel of the University of Leicester, entitled Media and the Riots – A Call For Action, examined the relationship between mainstream media and communities affected by the "riots".[vague][further explanation needed]
- 2013 protests in Turkey
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2011 riots in England.|
|Images of the Tottenham riot on 6 August 2011 (BBC)|
|Map of the Tottenham riot on 6 August 2011 (Google Maps)|
|Tottenham Riots: Torched houses, cars in London violence aftermath (YouTube)|
|Damage at Leyton Mills Currys last night (TwitPic)|
Media related to 2011 riots in England at Wikimedia Commons
- Documentary on riots on Al Jazeera's People and Power
- Timeline and map of violence from the BBC
- Coverage at the Daily Telegraph
- Coverage at the Guardian
- Coverage at the Independent
- Videos of the riot cleanup
- U.K. Citizen Isobel Wiles' Commentary from abroad
- Tottenham MP David Lammy speaking on the aftermath of the riots
- The View from Hackney
- Official inquiry website
- François, N. 2013: Decolonisation of the self, hAUSnART, 3: 56–73