News and events

Did some see the London riots coming?

Terrible scenes in England. What started peacefully seems to have descended into pure opportunism from troublemakers.

Did anybody see it coming? Well check this fascinating article from The Guardian, a week ago:

Farewell youth clubs, hello street life – and gang warfare

With budget cuts leading to the loss of facilities that kept many inner-city youths occupied, experts predict a rise in crime

Others worry that a perfect storm of unemployment, the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a squeeze on programmes to help disadvantaged youths could bring more than just a rise in crime figures and result in a “lost generation”.

“Services are not just being taken away from young people, they are being taken from poor young people,” [Professor John Pitts] said.

“At a simple level that could mean an increase in antisocial behaviour and vandalism.”

Not that the budget cuts necessarily led directly to the riots of course, but I bet it didn’t help. Take away services like that from areas with serious social problems, and you can see how there might be consequences.

And it does leave me wondering how much money was saved in cutting services for disaffected youth, and how much more will be spent by the government bringing London and other cities back under control.

People are responsible for their own actions of course. But whether you consider these types of schemes to be improving community ties, bettering people, or merely a distraction from more destructive activities, they would appear to be a better investment than was apparent to those who cut them.

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By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

5 replies on “Did some see the London riots coming?”

Just seen this and I would like to put a different point of view.

What we saw on the streets of London wasn’t a lack of money or as a result of budget cuts. This is a failed social experiment called the welfare state. The welfare state as set by it’s founders was to provide dignity in old age, universal health care and a safety net for those who fell on hard times. Which is laudable and just in a modern society.

What we now have is a sub group in society who do not see it as being their own responsibility for helping themselves. They see it as a right for taxpayers to fund a lifestyle choice on benefits. We now have third generations in families who have never worked and never want too. We have created a society where everyone goes my rights…. never saying what is my responsibility for those rights.

In situations such as this the vast majority of people within the communities are the victims, not those who are committing wilful criminal acts. And as such I have no issue with live ammunition being used on these people. They have a choice not to do this. The vast majority should not be subjected to this mindless destruction and are entitled to the full protection of the law for the sad and mad.

Listening to the young teens involved in this, in interviews they definitely show a feeling of entitlement, which goes along with Wayne’s post. It’s not all the government’s responsibility, society is also has to ask itself some hard questions.

Generational unemployment and welfare dependence is also common in Australia, these ppl are often the most vocal and critical of Government policies, looking for someone to blame for their situation (other than themselves).

Listening to young girls involved in the looting they sounded like Vicki from Little Britain, I think a wake up call is due for all those sucking at the teat of the welfare state wherever they are? We don’t live in a utopia where work is a choice.

I’m sorry, blaming the “welfare state” for this is ridiculous. Other countries in northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany and The Netherlands, just to name a few) have a *far* more generous welfare system than the UK, and you’re not seeing them break out into mass looting, are you?

No, the issue with the UK is that the gap between rich and poor is huge; you can barely even get by on what welfare the UK offers.

“No, the issue with the UK is that the gap between rich and poor is huge; you can barely even get by on what welfare the UK offers.”

Those other countries aren’t as expensive as here & are also far more egalitarian. If you’re unemployed you get your rent paid in the form of housing benefit … do you realize how much that is in London? You have tens of thousands of people receiving several thousand a month JUST to cover their rent – not their daily living costs – these are paid on top. Families receiving £50K+ per annum to pay their rent is beyond ridiculous … the entire benefits system in the UK needs reviewed because there seems to be families who are raking in £100K+ in assorted benefits if they live in London & have large families then other families scraping by on nothing – there seems to be a rich/poor gap in the benefits system as well as in general society.

London is one of the richest & most expensive cities on the planet … comparing it to Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin or any other Northern European city is like comparing apples & oranges. I agree that the gap between rich & poor is huge but I’m not sure throwing money at the problem in the form of benefits will do much good … these kids need something more than what money is able to buy.

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