Debate Magazine

The London Riots

Posted on the 10 August 2011 by Beanandgone @scoffey01

Over the past few days I have witnessed one of the worlds largest and most influential cities held ransom by a bunch of feckless kids.

The thought that thousands of Londoners now stand cowering in their own homes, with the majority of shops, banks and offices shutting early sends shivers up my spine. The eerie silence on the streets reminds me of the Brisbane floods, but this time people fear the force of intentional crime…not a natural disaster.

Today the government appears to have belatedly regained control over the city, but the trust of the people that the police will show up if called upon has been completely shattered because there is merely just not enough of them.

So what triggered these riots?

On Thursday 4 August 29 year old Mark Duggan was shot dead by police during a pre-planned operation to carry out an arrest. His death triggered rioting in Tottenham on Saturday, which quickly spread to other areas of the capital and to other cities.

The London riots

Mark Duggan was shot twice by police and died of a chest wound. His loaded pistol was found at the scene (image from The Independent)

This has now turned into widespread looting; opportunistic, greedy, arrogant and amoral young criminals who believe they have the right to steal, burn and destroy other people’s property. There were no extenuating circumstances, no excuses.

The lead up appears to have steamed from two main causes. Firstly, decades of failed social, educational, family and microeconomic policies which have alienated large chunks of the UK from mainstream society. Apparently throwing welfare money at sink estates and material poverty isn’t quite as effective as they thought it might be.

Secondly, the failure of policing and criminal justice brought up by an ultra-soft reaction to riots of the past year. In my opinion, criminals need to fear the possibility and consequences of arrest; if they do not, they suddenly realise that the emperor has no clothes on.

The London riots

Police bravely face rioters with nothing but their shields

But even if we can blame to politicians (why not, everyone else does) for flawed policies that have fed the growing underclass beast – the idea that the riots were caused or provoked by cuts, uni fees or unemployment is nothing short of ridiculous. Just because someone is in personal trouble does NOT give them the right to rob, attack or riot.

Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of vandals are between the ages of 9 – 16 years old. They are not fighting against unemployment or uni fees…they are not even old enough to work. They simply want free money and free goods so they help themselves. They are driven by a culture of greed, entitlement and rights without responsibility, coupled with moral detachment. It’s no political protest, its cold hard thievery.

The London riots

Aaron Biber, 89, assesses the damage to his hairdressing salon (Getty images)

So how does this get fixed?

Firstly, people need to stop trying to be so “PC” (I shudder even writing it). Yes I am different, you are different, we are all bloody different and unless you want to live in a world made up of lemmings I suggest you get over it. There is no way every single individual need can be catered for without losing site of the bigger picture and getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

And secondly, figures of authority – parents, teachers, police – must again be given power and public support to act. The UK need to see zero tolerance policing, with all offences, however minor. The law-abiding mainstream majority feel as though they have been abandoned and betrayed by the establishment and is very, very angry. Public support for the amazing efforts the police are putting here is growing quickly and the pollies need to match it quick smart. It must be pretty hard to try to protect our streets from this kind of violence with nothing but a shield.

But there may just be a silver lining amidst all of this mayhem. All of a sudden people have something in common. A reason to stop and talk to each other, to check that everyone is okay and to chat about something other than the weather. A feeling of unity swirls amongst strangers coupled with a need to do something other than stand back and watch – even if it means picking up a broom and joining in on the clean up.

I just hope this is the end of it…

The London riots

Army of brooms at Clapham Junction


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