Riots risk is ‘higher than ever’, warns Labour on anniversary

The risk of a repeat of riots that scarred towns and cities including Wolverhampton and West Bromwich a decade ago is “higher than ever”, Labour said today.

The party accused the Government of failing to tackle the conditions that led to the eruption of violence on streets across the country.

A report released by Labour to coincide with the anniversary of the riots – which started in London before spreading to 66 other areas in the days that followed – found that the number of “forgotten families” was likely to have doubled in the past decade.

The unrest began on August 6, 2011 following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham two days previously.

What began as a protest turned into a full-scale riot that spread across the country over five days, involved around 15,000 people, and included looting, and businesses and vehicles set ablaze. Five people died and the damage left the country with a bill of half a billion pounds.

Trouble came to the Black Country three days after the riots started in London. An interim report from an independent review panel in November 2011 said there were more than 5,000 crimes committed, 1,860 incidents of arson and criminal damage, 1,649 burglaries, 141 incidents of disorder and 366 incidents of violence against the person. But Labour said the Government had since implemented only 11 of the 63 recommendations made by the panel in its final report in March 2012. And in its own report released today, the party said “the psychological damage to the communities the riots affected is untold”.

It called for a reverse to cuts in youth services and action to engage young people into society. Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said: “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.”

Speaking alongside Darra Singh, who chaired the original panel, at an event in London, Mr Reed added: “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 report recognised that there had been improvements in bringing down the number of young people not in education, employment or training and that ministers had made progress in bringing services to work more closely together.

But it said there had been a 70 per cent cut in funding to youth services, in-work poverty and inability to access early years services had not been improved, and there had been no change to the youth re-offending rate 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.”

The Government has been contacted for comment.

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