Riots Communities and Victims Panel

Listening, learning and understanding

Riots Panel publishes interim report

“Riots will happen again if urgent action is not taken”

The independent Riots Communities and Victims Panel has published its interim report. It finds that there are many individual causes and motivations for the disorder between 6-10 August this year.

Since the Panel’s call for evidence was announced ten weeks ago its members have visited 20 areas, and engaged with thousands of people who were affected by the riots, and some who were not.

Through original research the Panel estimates that between 13,000-15,000 people were actively involved in the riots, which spread through England with unprecedented speed.

The Panel has concluded that the riots were not about or caused by any single issue. However, it finds that had the police response in Tottenham, and subsequently across London, been more robust riots would not have happened elsewhere in England.

Using previously unpublished data the Panel has explored the link between deprivation and rioting, and explores the role of brands and consumerism, values and parenting.

Following its wide ranging research the Panel conclude that riots of this nature will happen again, therefore immediate action is needed if this is to be prevented.

Darra Singh Chair of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel said:

“It is thirty years since the publication of the Scarman report. The Panel is clear that the riots in August were very different disturbances to those in 1981. However, it is a sad fact that in some respects, the underlying challenges are strikingly similar.

“While deprivation is not an excuse for criminal behaviour we must seek to tackle the underlying causes of the riots, or they will happen again.

“Our findings have led us to set out recommendations for immediate action by individuals, government, public services and business. The threat of future riots and the response to them is not somebody else’s problem.”

The Panel finds and recommends that:

  • The Riot Damages Act is not working. The Panel did not hear of anyone who had received a payment under the Act. Forecasts show that by March 2012 barely half of the smallest, and only one in 10 of the largest, claims will have been paid.
    : Unblock the Riots Damages Act system and ensure that victims of the riots receive compensation quickly.
  • Insurers are letting victims down. The Panel heard a large number of complaints about the speed of insurers and their treatment of claimants.
    Recommendation: Prompt the insurance industry to root out the cases where service has been poor and to ensure that customers who are facing severe trauma are dealt with effectively.
  • Footfall remains seriously down in some riot hit high streets.
    Recommendation: The Government should start a fund to support struggling high streets, including using any potential underspend from the various support schemes to provide extra help.
  • People felt abandoned by the police in many areas.
    Recommendation: The Police need to ensure they achieve the right balance in prioritising the protection of individuals and residential areas over commercial property in tackling riots.
  • Residents were forced into the streets after their homes were set alight. Some people were forced off buses into riot areas.
    Recommendation: Local authorities and emergency services should review their processes for how to assist and/or evacuate residents and bystanders caught up in riot areas, including through designating particular sites ‘safe havens’.
  • Many people told the Panel that police stop and search was consistently carried out without courtesy.
    Recommendation: Stop and Search needs immediate attention to ensure that community support and confidence is not undermined.
  • The police could not control the disorder in many areas.
    Recommendation: Police authorities should immediately review their emergency plans to ensure they properly cover public disorder on the scale of the August riots.
  • Convicted rioters pose a risk of re-offending.
    Recommendation: Clear plans from public services, including the probation service, youth offending teams and local government to deal with the return of rioters are needed to reduce the potential for re-offending and to safeguard communities.
  • Victims should be able to confront rioters.
    Recommendation: Central and local government and the police should ensure all victims who want to face people who committed crimes against them can have the opportunity do so.
  • Many emergency service staff risked their lives during the riots.
    Recommendation: Honour the service personnel who protected communities at great risk to themselves.

In the next phase of its work the Panel have committed to look more at the role of parenting, how to make young people more resilient and help them back into work, and to explore how brands can contribute to communities.

The full press notice can be read below. The Riots Communities and Victims Panel’s interim report can be read via the following link 5 Days in August – An interim report on the 2011 English riots.

Press Notice Riots Panel Interim Report 28 November