Risk of London riots happening again 'higher than ever', Labour warns

5 August 2021, 10:49

Labour has warned the conditions behind the riots have not been addressed
Labour has warned the conditions behind the riots have not been addressed. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The risk of the London riots being repeated is "higher than ever" because the Government has failed to tackle the reasons the violence began, Labour has said.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the riots' start, the party issued a report which said the amount of "forgotten families" which many of the young people involved came from could have doubled within the decade.

In 2012, the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel found there were 500,000 such families. It said they needed support but did not pass the bar for help due to funding cuts in council budgets.

The unrest started on August 6 2011 after Mark Duggan was fatally shot by police in Tottenham.

Protests against his killing warped into riots that spread from London to 66 other areas.

Read more: Boris Johnson to boost police stop and search powers under Beating Crime Plan

Read more: Ex-cop says police are 'too busy policing Covid crime to deal with things that matter'

Across five days, 15,000 people were involved in incidents that included looting and saw businesses and vehicles set on fire.

Five people died and about half a billion pounds of damage was caused.

A report in November of the same year found more than 5,000 crimes committed. It recorded 1,860 incidents of arson and criminal damage, 1,649 burglaries, 141 incidents of disorder and 366 incidents of violence against the person.

But the Government has only implemented 11 of the report's 63 recommendations, Labour said in its own report on Thursday. The Government insisted it is strengthening communities.

Labour said "the psychological damage to the communities the riots affected is untold".

The party's shadow communities secretary Steve Reed was expected to say: "The findings of this report are an alarm bell that we cannot afford to ignore.

"The deep social inequalities have grown wider after a decade of cuts to vital services that support struggling families and a rise in poverty."

Mr Reed was also set to say: "Instead of acting to strengthen the fabric of society to reduce the risk of riots, over the past decade the Conservatives have decimated police forces, youth services and council funding for the support families most at risk need."

The Government insists it has strengthened communities
The Government insists it has strengthened communities. Picture: Alamy

While some improvements have been recognised by the report, such as lower numbers of young people who are either unemployed or not being trained, it said there was a 70% cut in youth services funding and no change to the youth reoffending rate had occurred between 2011 and 2021.

Mr Reed said: "The Government chose to ignore the lessons of the riots, so the risks we face today seem higher than ever."

A Government spokesperson said: "The events of August 2011 shocked the country, and the police and courts took commendably swift action to bring perpetrators to justice.

"We're strengthening communities by levelling up opportunities and ensuring local people are at the heart of decision making - identifying what matters to them and the best ways to achieve this.

"We've allocated £12 billion to councils since the start of the pandemic, with over £6 billion not ringfenced in recognition that councils are best placed to decide on local needs."