Friday, 28 October 2011

How knee-jerk politicians got riots wrong!

OFFICIAL statistics now suggest that leading politicians were wrong in their initial attempt to blame gangland culture for the August riots. Of those arrested only one in eight were gang members and even where police identified that gang members were present, most forces now believe that they did not play a 'pivotal role'. Further, it has been argued on Radio Four's program 'More or Less' that the arrest statistics could themselves be biased and not give an accurate indication of the typical participants in the riots, because police methods of arrest by their nature tend to target people with previous convictions and prioritise gang members.

Outside London, the majority of police forces identified fewer than 10% of all those arrested as being gang members. Even in London the vast majority of those arrested at 81% were not identified as being members of gangs. This week's latest report by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice stresses the poor educational and socio-economic background of those arrested in the riots and states: 'It is clear that compared to the population averages, those brought before the courts were more likely to be in receipt of free school meals or benefits, were more likely to have had special educational needs and be absent from school, and are more likely to have some form of criminal history.'

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