Home > Government, Protest > UK Rioters say anger with police fuelled summer unrest.

UK Rioters say anger with police fuelled summer unrest.

By Paul Lewis, Tim Newburn, Matthew Taylor and James Ball
The Guardian, Monday 5th December 2011.    Find Full Article Here:-

Guardian-LSE study of riots – involving hundreds of interviews with participants – reveals deep antipathy towards officers.

Riots: Police officers in riot gear block a road near a burning car in Hackney, east London

Our team collected more than 1.3m words of first-person accounts of the English riots.
Photograph: Luke Macgregor

Widespread anger and frustration at the way police engage with communities was a significant cause of the summer riots in every major city where disorder took place, the biggest study into their cause has found.

Hundreds of interviews with people who took part in the disturbances which spread across England in August revealed deep-seated and sometimes visceral antipathy towards police.

In a unique collaboration, the Guardian and London School of Economics (LSE) interviewed 270 people who rioted in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Salford.

The project collected more than 1.3m words of first-person accounts from rioters, giving an unprecedented insight into what drove people to participate in England’s most serious bout of civil unrest in a generation. Rioters revealed that a complex mix of grievances brought them on to the streets but analysts appointed by the LSE identified distrust and antipathy toward police as a key driving force.

Details of the research findings, which are also based on an analysis of an exclusive database of more than 2.5m riot-related tweets, will be unveiled in a series of reports over the next five days. Monday’s findings include:

• Many rioters conceded that their involvement in looting was simply down to opportunism, saying that a perceived suspension of normal rules presented them with an opportunity to acquire goods and luxury items they could not ordinarily afford. They often described the riots as a chance to obtain “free stuff” or sought to justify the theft.

• Despite David Cameron saying gangs were “at the heart” of the disturbances, evidence shows they temporarily suspended hostilities. The effective four-day truce – which many said was unprecedented – applied to towns and cities across England. However, on the whole, the research found gang members played only a marginal role in the riots.

• Contrary to widespread speculation that rioters used social media to organise themselves and share “viral” information, sites such as Facebook and Twitter were not used in any significant way. However, BlackBerry phones – and the free messaging service known as “BBM” – were used extensively to communicate, share information and plan riots in advance.

• Although mainly young and male, those involved in the riots came from a cross-section of local communities. Just under half of those interviewed in the study were students. Of those who were not in education and were of working age, 59% were unemployed. Although half of those interviewed were black, people who took part in the disorder did not consider these “race riots”.

• Rioters identified a range of political grievances, but at the heart of their complaints was a pervasive sense of injustice. For some this was economic: the lack of money, jobs or opportunity. For others it was more broadly social: how they felt they were treated compared with others. Many mentioned the increase in student tuition fees and the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance.

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.

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Categories: Government, Protest
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