"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for November, 2011

Out And About On Pickets Today

NCAG members were out and about today joining pickets and marching with trade unionists across the county.

One particular group of striking public sector workers stand out for their commitment to Norfolk communities and they are the striking paramedics who answered red calls hour after hour for no pay at all.

Are these the actions of selfish taking the piss trade unionists or dedicated, professional and essential public servants?

While the right wing media and Tory propaganda machine work on overdrive it has been more than clear today that there is more than just hesitant support for public sector workers in their struggle. There would be even more if the TUC leaders were to get off their behinds and embrace private sector workers and working class communities also.

There is much to play for, the destruction of the whole welfare state is at stake. But while Tories and their apologists appear on our screens day after day spouting nonsense about trade unionists and blaming the previous equally useless government for the mess we’re in, most people are able to see through the nonsense and remain committed to both the welfare state and those workers who form it’s backbone, and they’re not yet ready to sell them out to the corporations.

Long may that remain.


Opinion: I Remember, In Fact I’ll Never Forget…

“Remember when Teachers, Civil Servants, Policemen, Ambulance staff, Nurses, Midwives, Doctors and Fireman crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.”

So goes the recent profile update that is doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter.

While I agree wholeheartedly, there are however things I CAN remember.

I remember the first time I was brutally assaulted and knocked unconscious by a tooled up gang….of police.

I remember losing my house due to unsubstantiated complaints by a neighbour who was in the BNP….by the nice people in the housing office.

I remember it taking five years to get custody of my small vulnerable children from their mentally ill mother because my word as a father was not given as much importance as the denials of maltreatment by their mother…by the nice lady social worker.

I remember being cut off the dole and having to beg on the street for money due to refusal of help…from the nice people at the Jobcentre.

I remember years of verbal, mental and physical abuse….at the hands of teachers.

I remember being brutalized and tormented while in custody and how currently a friend is having his mail thrown away…by prison officers.

I remember the year long battle to sort out my PAYE deductions that left me having to work an extra 4 hours a day just to break even…by the most helpful people at the tax office.

Yes, I remember.

It’s just as well I also remember that I’d never cross a picket line and I’ll be phoning in sick on November 30th because members of my union are going on strike. Ironic isn’t it….

Rick Dutton

Solidarity With Sean Cregan And All The Antifascist Prisoners

Antifascist Sean Cregan will be having his birthday in prison this year on the 6th December…how about sending him a card…won’t take you 5 minutes…

HMP Coldingley
Shaftesbury Road
GU24 9EX

Don’t forget to put your name and address on the back of the envelope or he won’t get it.

Details of how Sean and 6 others found themselves with heavy sentences can be found here http://antifascistprisonersupportuk.wordpress.com/about-2/

A list of the other prisoners and their contact details can be found here http://antifascistprisonersupportuk.wordpress.com/addresses/

Please write to them. Advice on writing to prisoners can be found here http://www.brightonabc.org.uk/writing.html

They’re inside for us…we’re outside for them!


By Kenan Malik from his Pandaemonium blog.


Here is my introduction to the discussion on ‘immigration and citizenship’ at last week’s Trudeau Foundation conference on ‘The Making of Citizenship’, about which I have already written. I was part of a double act with Ruben Zaiotti, whose job it was to talk about the Canadian experience. Mine was just to be provocative.

The debate about immigration and citizenship in Europe is often presented as a debate between multiculturalism and assimilation. Not only does this oversimplify the debate, but the similarities between the two sides are often more important than the differences.  Both sides have broadly bought into a series of common myths about immigration and citizenship:

1. The starting point for both multiculturalists and assimilationists is the need to manage the pluralism created by immigration. But Europe is today perhaps less plural than ever before.

Both multiculturalists and assimilationists begin with the presumption that European nations used to be homogenous but have become diverse, though clearly they advocate different policies in response to this diversity. Both sides, however, are suffering from a collective memory loss. The homogeneity of Europe in the era before mass immigration is a myth.

Take, for instance, Britain in the nineteenth century. Here’s a view of the urban poor in the Saturday Review, a well-read liberal magazine of the mid-Victorian era:

The Bethnal Green poor… are a caste apart, a race of whom we know nothing, whose lives are of quite different complexion from ours, persons with whom we have no point of contact… The slaves are separated from the whites by more glaring… marks of distinction; but still distinctions and separations, like those of English classes which always endure, which last from the cradle to the grave, which prevent anything like association or companionship, produce a general effect on the life of the extreme poor, and subject them to isolation, which offer a very fair parallel to the separation of the slaves from the whites.

The working class and the rural poor are not simply culturally distinct, they are the racial other.  As the historian of empire David Canadine has shown in his book Ornamentalism, the English ruling class viewed East End costermongers as alien as they did Jamaican peasants but saw Indian princes and West African tribal chiefs as ‘one of us’.

Similarly in France.  Here is Christian Buchez, a Christian socialist, addressing the Medico-Psychological Society of Paris in 1857, about social differentiation in France:

Our task now… is to find out how it can happen that within a population such as ours, races may form – not merely one but several races – so miserable, inferior and bastardised that they may be classes below the most inferior savage races, for their inferiority is sometimes beyond cure.

We are so used to seeing difference, particularly racial difference, as between Europe and the Other, that we forget that for the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, the Other lived inside the borders.

It was not simply a question of perception. The social and cultural differences between a Victorian factory owner and a machinist were probably greater than those between a native white Briton and a second generation British Asian or Afro-Caribbean today.  Unlike the factory owner and the machinist, a 16-yr old white boy born in Bradford and 16-yr of from Bradford of Pakistani origin probably wear the same kinds of clothes, listen to the same kind of music, support the same football teams.

The current narrative about immigration and citizenship has been created by erasing the history of difference with European societies, including the history of past immigration. In the 1930s, for instance, nearly a third of the French population were immigrants, mostly from Southern Europe. Today we think of Italian or Portuguese migrants as culturally similar to their French hosts. Seventy years ago they were viewed as alien as Muslims are today, given to crime and violence, and unlikely to assimilate into French society. ‘The notion of the easy assimilation of past European immigrants’, the historian Max Silverman has written, ‘is a myth’.

What all this suggests is that there is nothing new in plural societies. What is different today is the perception that we are living in a particularly plural society, and the perception of such pluralism in largely cultural terms. For both multiculturalists and assimilationists, certain differences (culture, ethnicity, faith) have come to be regarded as particularly significant and others (such as class, say, or generational) as less relevant. The combination of historical amnesia and a one-eyed view of what constitutes ‘difference’ has come to shape the arguments of both multiculturalists and assimilationists.

2. The real debate is not between multiculturalism and assimilationism. It is between two distinct conceptions of multiculturalism and two distinct conceptions of assimilation.

Part of the problem in discussing multiculturalism is a confusion between two different meanings of the term. The first is the lived experience of diversity, the experience of societies enriched by mass immigration. The second is the set of political policies, the aim of which is to manage diversity by putting people into ethnic boxes, defining needs and rights by virtue of the boxes into which people are put, and using those boxes to shape public policy. Or, to put it another way, multiculturalism has come to define both a society made diverse by immigration, and the policies necessary to manage such a society. It has come to embody, in other words, both a description of society and aprescription for managing it.

There are similarly two notions of assimilation. On the one hand, assimilationism has come to mean the resolve to treat everyone as citizens, not as bearers of specific racial or cultural histories. On the other it has come to mean an insistence that equality requires a certain degree of cultural homogeneity, and hence requires  immigrants to give up some of their differences, because too great a degree of cultural diversity would undermine social cohesion and national unity. This was one of the arguments underlying the various bans on the burqa. ‘The wearing of the burqa’, French immigration minister, Eric Besson,  claimed in 2009 should  ‘be systematically considered as proof of insufficient integration into French society, creating an obstacle to gaining  nationality.” A year earlier Mme M, a Moroccan immigrant married to a French citizen with whom she had had four French-born children, was refused French citizenship on the grounds that because she wore a burqa, her practice of her religion was incompatible with the essential values of the French nation. Assimilationism is this sense is a means not of enforcing equality but of pointing up differences, of tolerating, indeed institutionalising racism.

If I were to construct an ideal immigration/citizenship policy, it would be to marry multiculturalism, in the sense of enhancing the lived experience of diversity, with assimilationism, in the sense of the resolve to treat everyone as citizens, rather than as bearers of specific racial or cultural histories. In practice what European nations have done is the very opposite. Different countries have institutionalised either multiculturalism, in the sense of policies to place minorities in boxes, or assimilationism, in the sense of equality as meaning the giving up of cultural or religious differences. Both, in other words, have rejected the best aspects of their outlook, and institutionalized the most wretched parts.

3. Both sides in the debate confuse the idea of peoples with that of values

‘Can Europe be the same with different people in it?’ asks the writer Christopher Caldwell in his controversial book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. His answer is a clear ‘No’. Caldwell is a columnist for the Financial Times and an editor of the conservative American magazine the Weekly StandardReflections on the Revolution in Europe is the latest in a succession of books by authors such as Mark Steyn, Oriana Fallaci, Bruce Bawer and Melanie Phillips warning of how immigration, and in particular Muslim immigration, is threatening the very foundations of European civilization. All immigrants, they argue, but most especially Muslim ones, bring with them a different set of values, incompatible with those of Western nations. The only solution is to stop immigration.

It is not difficult to see the problems with Caldwell’s line of reasoning. Not only does he erase the history of the ‘Other’ in Europe in which, as I’ve suggested, Europeans themselves were viewed as Muslims are today, but he confusespeoples and values. Being born to European parents is no passport to Enlightenment beliefs. So why should we imagine that having Bangladeshi or Moroccan ancestry makes one automatically believe in sharia?

What is striking is that both multiculturalists and assimilationists, in their different ways, express the same confusion. Multiculturalists argue that the presence in a society of diversity of peoples erodes the possibility of common values. Assimilationists suggest that such values are possible only within a more culturally, and indeed ethnically, homogenous society.

Multiculturalists insist that different groups have their own given values and lifestyles which should be respected. ‘Justice between groups’, as the Canadian political philosopher Will Kymlicka has put it, ‘requires that members of different groups are accorded different rights’. The British sciologist Tariq Madood takes this line of argument to make a distinction between what he calls the ‘equality of individualism’ and ‘equality encompassing public ethnicity: equality as not having to hide or apologise for one’s origins, family or community, but requiring others to show respect for them, and adapt public attitudes and arrangements so that the heritage they represent is encouraged rather than contemptuously expect them to wither away.’ So society must protect and nurture cultures, ensure their flourishing and indeed their survival.

For assimilationists diversity is the very problem. Europe, Christopher Caldwell bemoans, has been turned into a ‘bazaar of world cultures’. Muslim immigration must be stopped because Muslims are ‘not enhancing or validating European culture’ but  ‘supplanting it.’ The melodramatic title of Caldwell’s book is a nod to Irish philosopher Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, his polemic against the 1789 Revolution, and reflects Caldwell’s belief that the impact on European of postwar immigration has been as dramatic as the fall of the ancien regime in 1789. There is, he suggests, no ‘fundamental difference between colonization and labor migration’, when such migration involves people who are not like us.

The result of both multiculturalism and assimilationism are policies supposedly designed foster integration but whose consequences are to define minority communities as being distinct from the rest of society and, in so doing, fostering division and disengagement: Consider, for instance, some of the consequences of multicultural policies:

    • The tendency to treat individuals from minority communities more as members of a group than as individual citizens, and to shape public policy according to group membership rather than to individual needs. As, Joy Warmington, director of the equalities organization Birmingham Race Action Partnership has put it, ‘Rather than thinking of meeting people’s needs or about distributing resources more equitably,, organizations are forced to think about the distribution of ethnicity.’
    • The tendency of politicians to subcontract out their responsibility to so-called community leaders, who effectively become the voice of those communities and the mediation between the state and those communities.
    • The failure to acknowledge the diversity of minority communities and conflicts within them. One of the ironies is that multiculturalists appear to believe that nations are diverse, but that such diversity stops at the edge of minority communities. Differences and conflicts of class, gender, nationality and generation that exist within minority communities  often get ignored in multicultural policies.

Similar points can be made with respect to the impact of assimilationist policies, too. So long as both sides confuse the diversity of peoples and the diversity of values, so there can be no rational discussion of immigration and citizenship.

4. Immigration does not create a problem of citizenship. The fraying of citizenship creates the perception that immigration is the problem.

The starting point of virtually all discussions about immigration and citizenship is the belief that immigration creates a problem of integration and of citizenship. Indeed, without such a belief there would probably be no debate about immigration and citizenship. The problem is usually seen as a failure of immigrants to integrate into civil society, or to identify with the nation, or to act like citizens. And the demand is for policies to address that failure.

The trouble is, the evidence for the failure is at best mixed. There have been polls that have revealed that, for instance, almost 40% of British Asians do not feel British. But others, show that, on both sides of the Atlantic, those of immigrants background, including Muslims, are often more likely to identity with the nation than many sections of so-called indigenous population. The 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Study (EMBES), the results of which have not been fully published yet, has revealed that Asian communities tend to bemore satisfied with democracy, and more likely to identify with Britain, than the white population. In other words, insofar as there is a problem of integration and of citizenship, it is not simply a problem of immigrants, and those of immigrant background, but also of the indigenous population. And what needs to be addressed is less the specific failure of immigrants to integrate than the broader sense of social disengagement, afflicting many communities, including migrant communities.

One of the key characteristics of our era is that of political disenchantment, a sense of being rendered voiceless, of political institutions as remote and corrupt. There is a crisis of political representation.  It is true that many within migrant and minority communities have given vent to that sense of alienation. And, yet, the sense of political detachment has probably been most acute, not within migrant communities, but within the traditional working class, particularly as social democratic parties have sought new constituencies. And because the myths and assumptions about immigration and citizenship have not been challenged, but rather have been reinforced, so such alienation has often taken the form of scapegoating migrants for the fragmentation of society. Hence the success of many populist, reactionary movements across Europe.

Not only does the belief that immigration creates a problem of integration and of citizenship misunderstand the real issue, but in fostering hostility against immigrants, whom many come to believe are incapable of integrating, or unwilling to, such belief also establishes new tensions. In so doing it not only makes life harder, and often more violent and dangerous, for immigrants and minorities, it also constructs new barriers to integration.  The very belief that there is a problem of immigration and citizenship helps create the problem of immigration and citizenship.


A Letter To The UK Passport Office…

This has been doing the rounds for a while but is a good’un so we’ll help keep it in circulation…


Dear Sirs,
I’m in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this.. How is it that Sky Television has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a bleeding satellite dish from them back in 1977, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was bloody born and on what date.

For Christ sakes, do you guys do this by hand? My birth date you have on my pension book, and it is on all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30 years. It is on my National Health card, my driving license, my car insurance, on the last eight damn passports I’ve had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the plane over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother’s name is Mary Anne, my father’s name is Robert and I’d be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and when I die!!!!!!

I apologise, I’m really pissed off this morning. Between you and me, I’ve had enough of this bullshit! You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my bloody address!!!!

What is going on? Do you have a gang of neanderthal arseholes workin’ there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don’t want to dig up Yasser Arafat, for gods sake. I just want to go and park my arse on some sandy beach somewhere. And would someone please tell me, why would you give a shit whether I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? If I ever got the urge to do something weird to a chicken or a goat, believe you me, you’d be the last bloody people I’d want to tell !!

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to the other end of the poxy city to get yet another copy of my birth certificate, to the tune of £30. Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day?? Nooooooooooooo, that’d be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the bloody place like chickens with our heads cut off, then have to find some arsehole to confirm that it’s really me on the damn picture – you know, the one where we’re not allowed to smile?! (bureaucratic morons) Hey, do you know why we couldn’t smile if we wanted to? Because we’re totally pissed off!


An Irate Subject

P.S. Remember what I said above about the picture and getting someone to confirm that it’s me? Well, my family has been in this country since 1776 ………… I have served in the military for something over 30 years and have had full security clearances over 25 of those years enabling me to undertake highly secretive missions all over the world. ……… However, I have to get someone ‘important’ to verify who I am – you know, someone like my doctor – WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SODDING PAKISTAN !

‘Norfolk County Council Ready For Strike Action’

Always enjoyable to read that the County Council are ‘reassuring’ the public! And if you don’t feel ‘reassured’ you can always get in touch with the Councillors named at the bottom of this piece, not for further ‘reassurance’ you understand…but for their individual ‘political comment’….

As you were…

Norfolk County Council is reassuring the public that plans are in place to minimise any potential disruption during next Wednesday’s one-day national strike.

It is impossible at this stage to predict what the exact impact will be but the County Council will post any closures or disruption on the home page of its website – http://www.norfolk.gov.uk – as soon as information becomes available. Your local radio station will also have updates during the day.

So far the County Council has been informed of 43 full of partial school closures but as schools are communicating with parents and carers direct we expect this figure to be substantially higher on the day.

People are being urged to help the authority on Wednesday by only calling about emergency or time critical issues and not about routine matters if at all possible.

Cliff Jordan, Cabinet Member for Efficiency, said: “We are doing our utmost to limit the effects of next Wednesday’s action on front-line services and will try to keep essential services running, wherever possible. Departments are currently working to understand the impact at a local level, and directing resources to support the most vulnerable service users in line with our well established business continuity plans.

“We anticipate a large number of Norfolk’s schools will be closed on Wednesday and parents and carers should expect to be kept informed by the head teacher concerned. We have asked schools to inform families as soon as possible about their plans. I would urge people to contact their school direct if they need further clarification.

“Outside of schools we expect most County Council services, such as care services, park and ride, recycling centres and libraries, to be open for business but we will try to let people know of any disruption as soon as possible.”

County Hall will be open as will the County Council’s Customer Service Centre, which will prioritise emergency social care and highways calls.

Norse Care, which runs 26 care homes and provides care at 13 housing with care schemes in Norfolk, is implementing its contingency plans.

Tricia Fuller, Norse Group Human Resources Director, said: “We can assure residents and their families that we are doing everything we can to maintain the smooth running of all Norse Care homes in Norfolk.

“Arrangements are being made to ensure that sufficient care staff are available to cover for any who do not come in on 30 November. Our priority will be our residents’ welfare and we are confident that this can be safeguarded, even if there may be some disruption to their normal day.”


Notes for Editors

There are 414 NCC schools (3 nurseries, 359 primaries, 39 secondaries, one all-through school, 11 special schools and one short stay school (formally PRU), split across four sites).

There are 15 academies and one free school.

In total there are 430 state funded schools in Norfolk.

For political comment

Corporate Affairs and Efficiency:

Cllr Cliff Jordan (Cons) Cabinet Member for Efficiency on 01362 820422 (daytime)

Cllr Diana Clarke (Lib Dem) on 07920 286637

Cllr Jennifer Toms (Green) on 01603 610032

Cllr Colleen Walker (Lab) on 01493 782272


Young People And The 2011 ‘Riots’ In England – Experiences, Explanations And Implications For Youth Work.

by Mark K Smith on the The Encyclopaedia Of  Informal Education website which we’re sure many people will be interested in visiting. Main page here http://www.infed.org/index.htm

Street disturbances such as those which broke out in a number of cities in August are a part of English history – as is the panic that followed. In a well-known book Hooligan: A history of respectable fears, Geoffrey Pearson charts how, over 400 years, there have been repeated panics about criminal behaviour and ‘feral’ or troublesome children and young people[2]. While the scale of events may have taken policymakers and the popular press by surprise, the fact they occurred should not shock us – and certainly didn’t surprise many youthworkers on the ground.

Initial responses to the disturbances were also predictable. On the one hand there were those who wanted to punish rioters severely, on the other those who saw rioters as victims. The language was of moral collapse and broken Britain or of poverty and inequality.

This paper explores some key aspects of what happened, explanations of what may have contributed to the disturbances, and the implications for youth work. As we will see, it is best to avoid notions such ‘broken Britain’ and simplistic linkages to reductions in government expenditure on young people and youth work if we are to find sensible solutions.

Protesting, rioting, looting, doing damage and spectating

The disturbances can be seen as one of the most serious instances of civil unrest in a generation. More than 3,000 people were arrested and five people died. To understand what happened it is necessary to separate out five different but overlapping behaviours in the events of August 6-10th, 2011.

First, there was protest. Born of specific concerns and anger around the shooting by the Metropolitan Police of Mark Duggan close to Tottenham Hale Station on August 4th, a group of around 120 people marched from Broadwater Farm to Tottenham police station – and remained there dissatisfied with the response they received. In particular, there were concerns about the manner of the shooting (and whether ‘race’ played a part); and what was perceived by his family and some local people as a failure by the local police force in keeping them informed of developments. At this early stage fears were expressed by local community leaders that rioting could occur[3]. Protest was present in what then followed, but had various dimensions. The police remained the most significant focus for protest – and this was reflected in some of the chanting etc. directed at them. In particular, experience of police practices such as ‘stop and search’ appears to have been an important motivation for activity[4].

Second, we find rioting. The first disturbances occurred after the initial protest. However, from the second night on we saw significant numbers of young people taking to the streets in some poorer neighbourhoods in London[5]. While there was some looting, a great deal of the activity was aimed at gaining control of certain areas (often for a short period of time) from the Police and, more generally, ‘sticking two fingers up’ to authority. There was some debate in the midst of things as to whether this activity constituted ‘riot’ – a violent disturbance of the public peace by people assembled for a common purpose. The behaviour was certainly riot in its original sense – dispute and quarrel – and harks back to another possible root of the word, the Latin to roar (rūgīre). One of the new elements was the ability of the ‘rioters’ to organise activities via messaging particularly via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Third, and attracting much media attention, was looting. It was a feature of the disturbances from the first night – but grew in intensity. Much of looting appears opportunistic and to have happened because people elsewhere had shown it could be done. In London, much looting took place in or close to the neighbourhoods where those involved lived (the main exception here being Ealing, although even here there was significant local participation). A contrasting picture emerged in Birmingham and Manchester where people appear to have travelled into the city centre from quite distant neighbourhoods to join in the looting and disturbances. A certain proportion of the looting was organised and targeted.

Fourth, significant damage was done to property and to businesses. Such damage was summed by two images – both of fire destroying buildings – Union Point Tottenham and Reeves Corner, Croydon. At least 100 families were made homeless[6]. A report in the Financial Times suggests that around 48,000 local businesses suffered financial losses as a result of the disturbances. It is thought that the cost of of compensation in London alone  could be around £300 million[7].

Last, there were significant numbers of younger people spectating. The unusual nature of what was happening, the spectacle and excitement, drew many to the areas where action was occurring (or about to occur). With rolling news coverage, they were joined by large numbers of people sitting at home. Spectating – looking on – was an important aspect of what happened. Knowledge that there was an audience for disturbance – and one that spread well beyond the immediate situation – may well encouraged further action. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there appears to have been an element of ‘let’s show them’ in some of the events [7a].

Who was involved?

One of the problems when trying to make sense of all this is that much of the focus in coverage has been on looting. To some extent it was ‘news’. The scale of the looting compared to the previous rounds of disturbances was worthy of attention – but it does mean that much of the data we have derives from arrests made around this element.

From this data we can say that most of those arrested were young adults, male and from poor neighbourhoods.

  • In an initial analysis of those who came to court in the first week, Alex Singleton (2011) found that 41% of suspects living in one of the top 10% of most deprived places in the country. The data also shows that 66% of neighbourhoods where the accused live got poorer between 2007 and 2010. Very few of those appearing in court had jobs or were students (around 9% in total of the first 1000 cases). The Institute of Public Policy Research (2011) found that in an overwhelming majority of the worst-affected areas, youth unemployment and child poverty were significantly higher than the national average while education attainment was significantly lower[8].
  • When the first thousand cases are examined we find 66% of those who have appeared in court are aged under 25. 17% aged between 11 and 17. A very small number were aged over 30. More than 90% are male.
  • Ethnicity and ‘race’ form a further feature that must be addressed. Unlike some of the disturbances in the early 1980s the August events did not, on the whole, pit one ethnic community against another, although there were some exceptions, for example in some aspects of events in Birmingham and Ealing, and implicitly, Eltham. However, many of the poorerneighbourhoods affected have large ‘black’ populations. Ministry of Justice and Home Office analysis showed that 46% of defendants were ‘black’, 42% ‘white’ and 7% ‘Asian’. At one level this could be expected given the nature of the initial incident and protest – and the extent to which ‘stop and search’ has been directed against ‘black’ young people[9].

If we look at those involved in the rioting and immediate spectating there is some anecdotal evidence (from workers etc.) that a different demographic applies. A larger number appear to have been aged between 11 and 17 (although this needs some careful checking).

The role of gangs

A great deal of media attention and political comment has focused on the role of gangs. Here it is probably worth defining what is meant here. Simon Hallsworth and Tara Young have defined a gang as follows:

A relatively durable, predominantly street-based group of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group’s identity.[10]

Most young people join such gangs between the age of twelve and fourteen – but not all those involved with gangs are members. Many of the gangs active today began in the 1980s[11].

In London it was said initially that around 25 per cent of those arrested were connected with gangs. This figure has subsequently dropped to 19 per cent (337 suspects from 169 different gangs). Outside London less than 10 per cent were identified as being gang members.  Most forces report that gangs did not play a ‘pivotal role’. One of the knock-on effects of this has been an increase in gang activity in prisons. The Chief Inspector of Prisons has reported a significant rise in young people on suicide watch, and that prison service staff ‘were seeing changes in gang activity with some young people joining up despite having no previous involvement. The key motivation appeared to be self-protection as the established prison population turned on newly-arriving inmates’[12].

The Metropolitan Police have identified just under 200 gangs operating in London – and these are said to be responsible for a fifth of all youth crime. They were found to have around 20 to 30 members[13]. The total youth membership of London gangs is probably no more 2000 according to one report[14]. Around 40 per cent of members are reluctant or occasional affiliates[15].

Local evidence suggests that gangs were involved in organising some of the targeted robberies of specialist stores e.g. concerned with electronics and sportswear. These robberies have some of the hallmarks of ram-raiding in the 1980s. There is also some anecdotal evidence of members orchestrating disturbances in other locations in order to distract police attention.

One of the significant aspects of the rioting that took place is the way in which groups and gang members from different postcodes and neighbourhoods who are normally antagonistic to each other joined to combat a common foe (the police)[16].

Care needs to be taken around over-emphasising the role of gangs. They are an aspect of the situation – but we need to look well beyond them to appreciate what happened in the August disturbances.

Some explanations

Five main strands have appeared in explanations of why the disturbances happened. It is, however, necessary to issue an initial warning:

  • Several things were happening at once – each with different elements – there is no satisfactory single explanation for what occurred.
  • Deep-seated economic, social and cultural change combined with flawed policies and approaches concerning young people and marginalised neighbourhoods, and with some initially counter-productive responses, to create an explosive mix.
Inappropriate policing

There are two important aspects to explanations involving policing – one long-term; the other to do with reaction to the events of August 6th-10th.

Long-term policing practices. One of the central elements in what young people involved in the disturbances have said (see below) concerns their long-term experience of policing in the neighbourhoods where they live. Two particular dimensions stand out – what is perceived as the overuse of ‘stop and search’ and ‘stop and account’ (especially with young ‘black’ men), and degree to which young people are criminalised for being together on the street. As an Equality and Human Rights Commission review found, a number of police forces have been using ‘stop and search’ tactics in ways that are disproportionate and possibly discriminatory[17].

The figures are stark: if you are black, you are at least six times as likely to be stopped and searched by the police in England and Wales as a white person. If you are Asian, you are around twice as likely to be stopped and searched as a white person[18].

The Commission concluded that the evidence suggests racial stereotyping and discrimination remain significant factors behind the higher rates of stops and searches for black and Asian people than white people.

Alongside ‘stop and search’ there are number of practices and policies that have caused considerable resentment among key groups of young people. For example, dispersal orders (under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003) have been disproportionately used against groups of young people. As one investigation found, dispersal orders can ‘antagonise and alienate young people who frequently feel unfairly stigmatised for being in public places’[19].

The events of August 6th – 10th provided an opportunity for payback. The failure or inability to mobilize sufficient numbers of police trained to handle street disturbances created the chance to ‘get one over on the police’ (see below).

Reaction to events. A certain amount of criticism has been directed at the way that local police handled the situation surrounding the shooting of Mark Duggan. This included what was seen as a failure to keep the family informed of what was happening, and issuing incorrect information concerning the shooting. Taken together, these may well have inflamed the immediate local situation.

A further area of criticism concerns the failure to scale up and strengthen the police response on the second night of disturbances. In the wake of criticism of the policing of the student demonstrations earlier in the year (especially of kettling [corralling] and the handling of demonstrators and onlookers) care was being taken not to inflame situations. When this was combined with not having enough police on the streets on the second night, the rolling news channel coverage included a lot of material focusing on police retreating or having to stand by while looting and rioting took place. This could have been a factor in generating copy-cat activities the next night. It certainly enraged government ministers who then took the opportunity to present themselves as pushing police services into stronger action and to set out an agenda for reform. Senior police officers and representatives of rank and file police officers reacted angrily – and quite understandably – to this. They argued that operational independence should not be compromised, and that it takes time to scale up and alter the response.

Two things are worth noting here. First, there had been a major and largely unpredicted shift in the direction of the disturbances towards looting – and this required a different tactical response. Second, while messaging was a feature of the earlier student riots and demonstrations, it provided a major tactical headache during the August riots. Messaging facilitated the orchestration of disturbances and criminal activity and the stretching of police responses.

An earlier, stronger police intervention may have reduced the scale of looting – but there has to be some doubt about this. There are lessons to be learnt about the handling of potentially inflammatory incidents; intelligence and the monitoring of messaging etc.; and the range of tactical responses open to officers. Along with this there remains important worries about the use of ‘stop and search, and dispersal orders and similar instruments and practices. This said, there were strong social forces at work which were going to surface as an ‘explosion’ – and will continue to find violent expression unless they are properly addressed.

Inequality and materialism

One of the striking features of recent research is that feelings of happiness (and more concrete indicators of well-being) weaken the wider the differences in rich and poor in a country. In other words, the higher the level of inequality in a society, the more likely its members will be unhappy. This is of special significance for the United Kingdom where the gap between rich and poor is now very similar to Victorian times and is one of the widest in the ‘developed’ world – second only to the US[20]. Children and young people appear to have suffered significantly as a result. Researchers involved in a major UNICEF initiative made a comprehensive assessment of the lives of children and young people in 21 nations of the industrialized world. They issued a ‘Report Card’ to encourage monitoring, to permit comparison, and to stimulate the discussion and development of policies to improve children’s lives[21]. The United Kingdom and the United States find themselves in the bottom third of the rankings for five of the six dimensions reviewed.

With the world banking crisis of 2008, the associated rise in unemployment, and the large-scale cutbacks in public education and welfare from 2010 onwards, economic inequality appears to be growing. Moreover, it is children and young people who have disproportionately borne the burden of this. For example, in 2009 around 2.2 million children lived in absolute poverty. A situation that was further exacerbated by the fact that parenting in the sorts of neighbourhoods we are focusing in here ‘requires more money than it does in less urban areas and low-income parents struggle to meet even basic costs for their children’[22]. Projections produced by the Institute of Fiscal Studies indicate that by 2015 the number of children living in absolute poverty will rise to 3 million[23].

There are some profound costs to this. As Offer has commented, ‘being low down the scale of absolute income is associated with misery – with shorter lives, bad health, discrimination, poor education, incarceration and other detriments’[24].‏

Wrapped up with this is the impact of materialism. As another recent UNICEF research report put it, ‘materialism is thought to be a cause, as well as an effect of negative well-being, and countries that have higher levels of inequality are known to score lower on subjective wellbeing indicators’[25]. Looking at the experience of children in the UK, Sweden and Spain, they concluded:

It seems that children are more likely to thrive where the social context makes it possible for them to have time with family and friends, to get out and about without having to spend money, to feel secure about who they are rather than what they own, and to be empowered to develop resilience to pressures to consume.

At the same time, the possession of ‘status technology’ like particular phones, and the wearing of certain clothing brands play an important part in ‘creating or reinforcing social divisions between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’’). Parents in the UK report feeling under tremendous pressure to buy goods for their children (often against their better judgement). Not unexpectedly, this pressure was most strongly felt in low-income homes. It appears that many families in the UK tend to use ‘the purchase of new material objects (particularly new technology) in an attempt to compensate for relationship problems and social insecurity’.

What the events of early August provided was a short-lived opportunity for some young people both to gain status items (‘get free stuff’) and to ‘get out and about without having to spend money’! However, we should not push the focus on status items too far. A number of those looting were looking for more basic items like food.

Moral collapse

A third aspect of discussion of the August disturbances concerns moral collapse – signs of a decline in the ability to tell right from wrong, and to act appropriately. This discourse is not confined to describing the activities of rioters. The widespread abuse of the expenses system by MPs; the endemic invasion of privacy by the UK press, most significantly the News of the World; and the failure of bankers and fund managers within certain parts of the financial system to work to proper standards – and the role this had in creating recession – have all been the focus of public debate and comment. In each case there has been an emphasis upon private gain at the expense of the whole and the use of practices that were either illegal or lacked moral responsibility. The result, it can be argued, has been a significant decline in confidence in the abilities of those in these important sectors – and in their readiness to act for the good of society.

The example of MPs, newspapers, and elements of the financial system set a tone it could be argued. Their actions were cited by some of those involved in the August disturbances as a justification for their activities. However, there has also been comment in the media about shifts in value systems and behaviours amongst those living in poorer and more marginalized neighbourhoods. Part of this has centred around the extent to which people expect, and have become dependent upon, state financial support – and to place responsibility for their situation on others. This is often contrasted with the ways in which those that do work or are prudent with their money are penalized.

Whether this represents a moral collapse is doubtful. There have always been those ready to exploit people and situations with little or no care for the harm it does to others or the morality of their actions. However, with secularization, the growth of competitive individualism, and the decline of key mass membership organizations like unions and political parties, many people have less access to social environments where moral questions and collective responsibility are directly addressed.

Social breakdown

There have been changes in the experience and nature of households in poorer areas over the last decade or so – but whether this constitutes social breakdown is also a matter for some debate.

First, there has been a significant reduction in household size and a change in the nature of local populations. This has a number of causes as Rogers and Power comment:

… more elderly people are surviving, but they are living separately from their children; later marriage and childbearing; fewer children per family; more broken marriages and more lone parents; more economic independence for women.

They continue:

The effects are starker in cities because childless households and lone-parent families are concentrated there. Cities attract young people and new immigrants, but tend to lose established working families. They also retain an elderly, ‘left-behind’ population.[26]

Second, the proportion of dependent children in Great Britain living with a lone parent has almost doubled over the last twenty years (from 14 per cent in 1986 to 24 per cent in 2006[27]. This has a number of important implications for the experiences of children and young people. First, the households they are living in are poorer. Second, there tend to be more problems in parent-child relationships – ‘linked probably to the experience of stress, low morale and depressive mood in both mothers and fathers’[28]. As one overview reported, ‘Children brought up in one-parent families are more likely to take drugs, drop out of school and end up in prison’[29]. Other commentators have drawn attention to the impact of absent fathers and lack of appropriate male role models[30].

This set of arguments needs handling with care. Over the last 15 years or so there has been a growing amount of evidence that once as children grow older their peer group becomes a far more significant influence than their parent or parents. Parents can have some influence over choice of peer group – but this also becomes limited[31]. Certainly, peer pressure has been reported as an important aspect of young people’s involvement in the ‘riots’ of August 2011. A number have talked about the impact of messaging – of being told about what was happening or about to happen – and being ‘expected to be there’ (see below).

The debate over the impact of all this and the extent to which it fuelled the disturbances has tended to focus on the experiences of ‘black’ young people – partly because ‘65% of black Caribbean children in Britain grow up in a single-parent family’[32]. There has also been a focus on educational underachievement by ‘black’ Caribbean young men. However, a high proportion of white working class children and young people in the sort of neighbourhoods in which the disturbances took place also grow up in one-parent households and underachieve to the same degree at school.

We need to be careful about social breakdown arguments. There may well be particular problems in specific neighbourhoods – and these may well have been exacerbated by growing social polarization and inequality. However, when we take a historical view we have to be cautious about whether there has been a step change. As a recent Young Foundation report on civility put it:

…our research shows that generalisations about declining standards of civility are inaccurate and problematic. While there are flashpoints of incivility, these tend to be contained to certain places or certain times. But in general Britain remains a well-mannered and courteous country. We still compare favourably to other developed nations. Most people still feel like they can trust others and that their neighbourhoods are free from anti-social behaviour.[33]


From the above discussion it is apparent that flawed or debatable government policies (some of which are longstanding may have contributed to the situation. Here I want to highlight four:

First, there has been a failure by governments over the last thirty years to properly address social housing. It has been a low priority area in terms of policy. This has aggravated the problems experienced in many poorer neighbourhoods. While there has been investment in existing stock and general improvements in the condition of houses and flats, very little has been done to increase the number of homes available. With the sort of demographic shifts already outlined, and the inability of many people to get on the home-owning ladder, this has had a major impact – both in terms of the cost of housing (forcing people into the private rented sector) and working to undermine the stability of local neighbourhoods.

Second, there has been a growing and long-run issue around young people’s access to public space. The use of dispersal orders and the like combined with the extent to which young people are discouraged from congregating in commercial areas like shopping malls[34] has been problematic.

[For] many young people, meeting peers in local public spaces constitutes a fundamental aspect of developing their own sense of identity, and provides space in which to forge their independent capacity to manage risk and danger. In the absence of suitable alternative venues, public spaces constitute key resources for young people.[35]

Third, there is the whole area of policy following the banking crisis of 2008 and the extent to which the austerity programme is undermining social cohesion. There is a perception that those at the bottom and middle of the household income scales are paying disproportionately for the failures that occurred. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a question of perception. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies (op. cit.) states,

…the impact of changes to personal tax and benefit policy announced by this coalition government is to increase relative child poverty by 200,000 in both 2015-16 and 2020-21, and to increase relative poverty for working-age adults by 200,000 in 2015– -16 and 400,000 in 2020-21. The reforms are forecast to increase absolute child poverty by 200,000 in 2015-16 and 300,000 in 2020-21, and to increase absolute working-age poverty by 300,000 in 2015—16 and 700,000 in 2020-21.

Fourth, the speed and the way in which decisions were made with regard to cutbacks in government support for young people has resulted in some poor decisions which may well have contributed to the situation. The most obvious areas concern the message sent by abolition of Educational Maintenance Allowances (which was cited by a number of young people as a motivating factor for involvement – see below), and major cuts to summer programmes and to extended schooling (which often provided holiday schemes). This conclusion has been disputed by government ministers, but there is some evidence that summer programmes have provided ‘diversionary’ activity for young people.

Summing up

Just how strong any of these elements was in the events of early August is a matter for debate and research. We will have a clearer picture of the motivations and rationalisations of those involved in December – thanks to a major study being undertaken by the London School of Economics and the Guardian (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Open Society Foundations)[36]. However, we have some useful starting points. As one presenter (Richard [Beef] Frankland) to a seminar on the August ‘riots’ reported, four themes were repeated in the conversations of those involved in the weeks after the disturbances:

1. Getting one over on the police. The relative powerlessness of the police in the early stages encouraged a number of people to ‘take back the streets’.

2. Peer pressure. Many felt they had to be seen to take part – some quite reluctantly. Interestingly a few young people who were electronically tagged (as a result of early release from detention) and subject to a home detention curfew expressed relief at not being able to be involved.

3. A bit of history. The riots and disturbances offered young people a chance to be part of something significant. They were making history.

4. Getting free stuff. The chance to get goods without having to pay for it had a certain attraction – as did the excitement of the process[37].

This analysis has been subsequently confirmed in its essentials by a study by Gareth Morrell and colleagues for the Cabinet Office. They mentioned three main motivations:

  • Something exciting to do: the riots were seen as an exciting event – a day like no other – described in terms of a wild party or “like a rave”. The party atmosphere, adrenaline and hype were seen as encouraging and explaining young people’s involvement by young people themselves and community stakeholders.
  • The opportunity to get free stuff: the excitement of the events was also tied up with the thrill of getting “free stuff” – things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have.
  • A chance to get back at police: in Tottenham, the rioting was described as a direct response to the police handling of the shooting of Mark Duggan. Here and elsewhere in London, the Mark Duggan case was also described as the origin of the riots and the way it was handled was seen as an example of a lack of respect by the police that was common in the experience of young black people in some parts of London. Outside London, the rioting was not generally attributed to the Mark Duggan case. However, the attitude and behaviour of the police locally was consistently cited as a trigger outside as well as within London. [37a]

The researchers mention peer pressure – but demote it’s significance to a ‘situational factor’ (probably wrongly when one talks to those working at the time with people involved in the ‘riots’).

Some implications for youth work and youth workers

We have yet to see what response the government will make. The main reaction thus far has been ‘steady as you go’. There has been no significant pulling back from the planned reductions on expenditure on policing and youth services, for example. There are some indications that central government policy with regard to the latter will continue to move towards a more targeted, welfare/social work model with the focus on combatting ‘dangerous behaviours around teenagers’[38]. They will leave other forms of provision to voluntary organisations and the private sector.

There are major issues with this approach – most significantly that it fails to pay attention to the social context and relationships in which these behaviours occur. We know, for example, that looking to wider social networks, neighbourhood life and general family life pays considerable dividends in terms of raising educational achievement, reducing crime and stimulating economic activity[39]. One of the things that agencies and organisations will need to do is to continue to make this case to government and to funders.

One of the key points to bear in mind however, is the extent to which reaction to the ‘riots’ will skew, or be used as an excuse to keep, policy away from some of the fundamentals. In other words, the focus will be on, for example, changes to curfew arrangements and tougher sentences for gang members[40]. In the two months following the ‘riots’ and disturbances there have been a series of research reports highlighting the long-running and fundamental issues discussed here including growing inequality and poverty; and the lack of employment opportunities for young people and the significant rise in the cost of education post-16. This is where major action is needed – but is unlikely to be forthcoming.

In respect of what is likely to be a more limited policy response there are some obvious lines of development. The general shape of these was sketched out byThe Economist:

The things that might work include both nice and nasty measures, as Mr Cameron should have the common sense to see. Broadly speaking, the cuddly ones should be focused on vulnerable children and the tough ones on miscreant adults. Schools should provide more pre- and after-school care to make up for parental absences. The coalition should press on with its plans to revive vocational education for unacademic pupils: that might help more of them feel they have the prospect of a decent and legal income. More resources should be found for youth work in rough neighbourhoods: teenagers spend a small fraction of their time at school, yet teachers are expected to socialise and discipline as well as educate them.[41]

Just whether the last of these is likely to happen on any scale is a matter of debate. Following the ‘riots’ there were a number of influential voices questioning the impact of youth work. For example, Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor for policing in London, has argued that tens of millions of pounds have been ‘squandered on youth services’ that have done little to curb juvenile offending. Too many London projects had focused on “entertainment” and “diversion”[42].

In the light of the above there appear to be four main implications for youth work[43].

Being clearer about what youth work is and offers; to shape their work appropriately; and to tell people about it.

Youth work was born, and remains fundamentally a part, of civil society[44]. It is, at heart, about relationship and association – connecting and being with others – and the good that can flow from this[45]. Youth work involves:

  • Facilitating relationships that allow young people to grow and flourish.
  • Creating spaces with the chance to reflect, learn and grow.
  • Enabling opportunities for people to freely to join together to organize and take part in groups and activities[46].

A range of evidence shows that local work with young people continues to offer sanctuary (a space away from the pressures of the school, family and neighbourhood); accessible and enjoyable activity; personal and social development; settings where friendships and relationships grow; and access to local knowledge and to credible role models[47].

Working for extended schooling

Given that 94 per cent of young people regularly attend school (with most of those not attending in any one year being absent due to illness or ‘family holidays’) it becomes obvious that youth work needs to be an element of schooling[48]. Indeed, many local projects are involved in schools work – and offer a bridge out to local civil society.

In a number of schools the contribution of youth workers and informal educators is recognised – but in many others it is not. One of the unremarked, but fundamental, aspects of schooling in deprived areas is the role that specialist educators like youth workers and learning mentors play in providing a daily reference point and support for young people who have trouble with the schooling system or that are experiencing problems in their home life or social situation. This intervention and support is not generally available over holiday periods – and it is likely that its absence contributed to some of the young people getting involved in the disturbances.

Unfortunately, extended schooling is under significant threat and yet it offers an important lifeline for many children and young people. There were major reductions in budgets during the last financial year and this has impacted on the ability to offer out of school activity – including holiday provision. There currently appears to be a major problem around breakfast clubs. A recent survey of teaching staff by Kelloggs (which runs more than 500 breakfast clubs in partnership with charity ContinYou) found that up to half of them could close because of threats to school budgets[49].

Local youth work agencies need to look at what they offer and to consider what it offers to schooling. They need to make a stronger case for the benefits to schools of the sort of associational and relational activity that youth work offers. In addition, they need to add their voices to those opposing the current cuts to extended schooling.

Developing, and making the case for streetwork

It is important to make contact with those not in schooling and education – and for those who are unemployed. One of the classic means is streetwork. Unfortunately, it is rarely understood or properly appreciated by policymakers and local managers. It is a long-term, community-based activity that involves building relationships with people who are often very distrustful of professionals.

Some of the most interesting work in the areas affected by the August ‘riots’ was streetwork. There were a number of reports (and some later anecdotal evidence) of the impact of those working around the fringes of gangs, with gang members and with young people on the street. For example, youth workers in a number of areas sought out those they were working with and encouraged them away from involvement. Another feature was the number of workers involved in mediating between young people and the police during the disturbances. There does appear to be a need for additional investment in this area – but it does need approaching carefully.

First, there is the need to distinguish between those agencies who are undertaking significant work and those who have the ability to ‘sell’ their activities but whose work has little real substance.

Second, some of the work is successful precisely because it is not government sponsored or funded, nor subject to the sort of outcome criteria many funders require, Perhaps the most interesting example here is the example of street pastors. Their concern with both the behaviour and soul of those involved with gangs etc. and the approach they take would usually fall foul of the requirements of state funders and commissioners. Yet in a number of respects it is this very orientation that contributes to their success.

Building civil society

Beyond the immediate role of youth workers in relation to disturbances, there is a lot to be done when looking at some of the things that young people are saying about their experiences – and policies that still fail to support the generation of social capital (which is by its nature a ‘universal’ form of intervention). There is ‘extraordinary potential’ in supporting and generating small groups and associations – and growing evidence (in contradiction of talk of Broken Britain) of people rediscovering the power of face-to-face group life[50]. Such activity has, historically, lain at the heart of youth work – and it is necessary for us to explore with young people new forms of group and associational life.

References and notes

[1] This briefing was prepared for a Rank Foundation (yarn) network seminar on youth work and the riots held in London at the Royal Festival Hall on October 19th, 2011. It was revised to take into account discussion at the event – and subsequently to take account of new research.

[2] Pearson, G. (1983) Hooligan: A history of respectable fears. London: Macmillan.

[3] Stephenson, W. (2011). “Tottenham police ‘could have stopped riots'”. London: BBC. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14646187. Retrieved 10 October 2011.]

[4] A number of young people and youth workers participating in a Rank Foundation (yarn) network seminar on the ‘riots’ (October 19, 2011, London) talked about the significance of the experience of ‘stop and search’ in hardening attitudes to policing.

[5] A timeline of events can be found on the BBC news website [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10321233. Retrieved 1 October 2011].

[6] Meikle, J. (2011) ‘Families made homeless by riots will be compensated’,The Guardian August 11. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/11/families-homeless-riots-compensated. Retrieved 1 October 2011].

[7] Moore, E. (2011). ‘Riots hit retail shares ‘at worst time’’. The Financial Times. 12 August 2011. [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/a60382c6-c1d2-11e0-bc71-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1We4WbJt5. Retrieved 11 September 2011].Estmates for London were reported by Dodd, V. (2011). ‘Counting the cost’, The Guardian October 25, 2011, p. 14.

[7a] A subsequent report by Gareth Morrell, Sara Scott, Di McNeish and Stephen Webster (2011) prepared for the Cabinet Office has a 4 category typology of involvement: watchers, rioters, looters and the non-involved. They wrongly place protest as a subheading under rioting. (The August Riots in England. Understanding the involvement of young people. London: NatCen. [http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/The%20August%20Riots%20in%20England%20(pdf,%201mb).pdf. Retrieved November 3,2011])

[8] Taylor, M. et. al. (2011). ‘England rioters: young, poor and unemployed’.The Guardian. 18 August 2011. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/18/england-rioters-young-poor-unemployed. Retrieved 18 August 2011]. Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) (2011). Exploring the relationship between riot areas and deprivation – an IPPR analysis. London. [http://www.ippr.org/articles/56/7857/exploring-the-relationship-between-riot-areas-and-deprivation–an-ippr-analysis. Retrieved 30 August 2011].

[9] Travis, A. (2011). ‘UK riots analysis reveals gangs did not play pivotal role’,The Guardian. October 25, 2011. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/24/riots-analysis-gangs-no-pivotal-role?. Retrieved October 25, 2011].

[10] Quoted in Heale, J. (2009) One Blood. Inside Britain’s new gang culture. London: Simon and Schuster. Page 16.

[11] Heale 2009:13, 16, 9

[12] The Ministry of Justice/Home Office study dealing with gang membership was reported in Travis, A. (2011). ‘UK riots analysis reveals gangs did not play pivotal role’, The Guardian. October 25, 2011. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/24/riots-analysis-gangs-no-pivotal-role?. Retrieved October 25, 2011]. Material concerning prison life is fromCasciani, D. (2011). ‘New gangs forming in jails after riots, watchdog warns’.BBC News. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14911174. Retrieved 22 September 2011].

[13] BBC News (2007). ‘Police identify 169 London gangs’. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6383933.stm. Retrieved 20 August 2011].

[14] Pitts, J. (2007) Reluctant Gangsters. Youth gangs in Waltham Forest. Luton: University of Bedfordshire.

[15] ibid.: page 55.

[16] Rank Foundation(yarn) network seminar on youth work and the riots held in London at the Royal Festival Hall on October 19th, 2011.

[17] Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010). Stop and think – a critical review of the use of stop and search powers in England and Wales. London: Equality and Human Rights Commission. [http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/raceinbritain/ehrc_stop_and_
search_report.pdf. Accessed October 12, 2011].

[18] op. cit. page 10.

[19] Crawford, A. and Lister, S. (2007. The use and impact of dispersal orders Sticking plasters and wake-up calls. A report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Bristol: Policy Press. Page ix.

[20] See Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009). The Spirit Level. Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Allen Lane.

[21] UNICEF (2007) The UNICEF Report Card (2007) Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.

[22] Power, A. (2007). City Survivors. Bringing up children in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Bristol: The Policy Press. p.100.

[23] Brewer, M. et. al. (2011). Child and Working-Age Poverty from 2010 to 2020. London: Institute of Fiscal Studies. [http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comm121.pdf. Retrieved 11 October 2011].

[24] Offer, A. (2006). The Challenge of Affluence. Self-control and well-being in the United States and Britain since 1950. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[25] (Ipsos MORI and Nairn, A. (2011). Children’s Well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain: The Role of Inequality and Materialism. A Qualitative Study. London: UNICEF. Pages 1, 1, 71 and 71.

[26] Rogers, R. and Power, A. (2000). Cities for a small country. London: Faber and Faber. Pages 37-8.

[27] Dunnell, K. (2008). Diversity and different experiences in the UK National Statistician’s Annual Article on Society. London: Office of National Statistics. [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/nojournal/NSA_article.pdf]

[28] Layard, R. and Dunn, J. (2009). A good Childhood. Searching for values in a competitive age. A report for the Children’s Scoeity. London: Penguin.

[29] The Economist (2011) ‘The black community wrestles with the causes of the riots’. September 3, 2011. [http://www.economist.com/node/21528285Retrieved 5 September 2011]

[30] See, for example, Sewell, T. (2010). ‘Black boys are too feminised’, The Guardian March 15. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/15/black-boys-too-feminised-fathers. Retrieved October 20, 2011].

[31] Harris, J. R. (1998). The Nurture Assumption. Why children turn out the way they do. New York: Touchstone.

[32] The Economist (2011) ‘The black community wrestles with the causes of the riots’. September 3, 2011. [http://www.economist.com/node/21528285Retrieved 5 September 2011]

[33] O’Sullivan, C. (2011). Charm Offensive: Cultivating Civility in 21st Century Britain. London: The Young Foundation. [http://www.youngfoundation.org/files/images/CharmOffensive_FINAL.pdf. Retrieved 11 October 2011].

[34] See Minton, A. (2010) Ground Control. Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city. London: Penguin.

[35] Crawford, A. and Lister, S. (2007. The use and impact of dispersal orders Sticking plasters and wake-up calls. A report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Bristol: Policy Press. Page 70.

[36] Lewis, P. (2011). ‘Understanding the England riots from the perspective of those responsible’. The Guardian 10 October 2011. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/10/learning-england-riots-perspective-responsible. Retrieved 10 October 2011]

[37] Richard (Beef) Frankland, Prospex Youth Services Manager,  Presentation to a Rank Foundation (yarn) Network Seminar on ‘youth work and the riots’. held in London at the Royal Festival Hall on October 19th, 2011.

[37a] Gareth Morrell, Sara Scott, Di McNeish and Stephen Webster (2011). The August Riots in England. Understanding the involvement of young people. London: NatCen. Page 5. [http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/The%20August%20Riots%20in%20England%20(pdf,%201mb).pdf. Retrieved November 3,2011]

[38] Higgs, L. (2011). ‘Conservative Conference 2011: Wellbeing boards to be ‘significant player’ in youth service provision’, Children and Young People Now3 October 2011. [

[39] The classic research here is Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling Alone. The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.

[40] BBC News (2011). England riots: Police could get wider curfew powers. August 16. BBC News. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14538252. Accessed October 20, 2011]. See, also Ian Duncan Smith trailing an upcoming report to tackle gun and gang crime reported in Wintour, P. (2011). ‘Intervention before birth in problem families’, The Guardian October 21, p.21.

[41] The Economist (2011). ‘The knees jerk. Both poverty and culture contributed to England’s riots. The response must address both’. 20 August 2011. [http://www.economist.com/node/21526361. Retrieved 21 August 2011].

[42] Bentham, M. (2011). ‘Millions of pounds wasted in bid to curb youth crime’. London Evening Standard. September 21. [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23989404-millions-of-pounds-wasted-in-bid-to-curb-youth-crime.do. Retrieved October 20, 2011].

[43] A number of these points emerged out of a Rank Foundation (yarn) network seminar on youth work and the riots held in London at the Royal Festival Hall on October 19th, 2011.

[44] Jeffs, T. and Smith M. K. (2010). ‘Introducing youth work’. In T. Jeffs and M. K. Smith (eds.) Youth work practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Page 3.

[45] Rogers, A. and Smith, M. K. (2009). Journeying Together. Youth work through the Youth or Adult? Initiative. London: The Rank Foundation. Page 7.

[46] op. cit.

[47] Spence, J. and Smith, M. K with Frost, S. and Hodgson T. (2011) myplace evaluation – final report. London: Department for Education. [https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/myplace%20Evaluation%20-%20Final%20report.pdf].

[48] Department for Children, Schools and Families (2009). Statistical Release: Pupil Absence in Schools Autumn Term 2008 and Spring Term 2009.SFR 29/2009. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families. [http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000882/SFR29_2009withTables.pdf. Accessed: March 10, 2011]

[49] Mahadevan, J. (2011). ‘Pressure on school budgets threatens future of breakfast clubs’. Children and Young People Now. 11 October 2011. [http://www.cypnow.co.uk/Education/article/1097886/pressure-school-budgets-threatens-future-breakfast-clubs/?DCMP=EMC-CONInPractice. Retrieved 11 October 2011.]

[50] See Hemmings, H. (2011) Together: How Small Groups Achieve Big Things. London: John Murray.

Acknowledgement: The picture Riot in Tottenham is by Surian Soosay and is reproduced under a Creative Commons licence – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssoosay/6018083181/in/photostream/

How to cite this piece: Smith, M. K. (2011). ‘Young people and the 2011 ‘riots’ in England – experiences, explanations and implications for youth work’. The encycopedia of informal education.[http://www.infed.org/archives/jeffs_and_smith/young_people_youth_work_and_the_