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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ealing Council Riot Scrutiny Committee - update

Tonight I attended Ealing Council's Riot related scrutiny committee. It was good to hear from two groups of teenagers who gave their perspective of why the riots occurred.

Over the past month or two looking at the views of those from Ealing and those from around the country I am piecing together more about why the riots occurred. Sadly I haven't heard much from those in prison - the actual rioters.

However it remains clear to me that there is no one simple reason why hundreds of people rampaged through Ealing. Was it the higher rates of unemployment? Government cuts? Or just groups of people being greed and taking advantage of a situation? Also many are blaming high unemployment when in the North East the rates are higher but there was littler or no rioting.

I think clearly that the police made mistakes in Tottenham that allowed a riot to occur. This was due to both a lack of police and a lack of skill in handling the situation, as it appeared.

Then once Tottenham occurred it seemed a number of people coordinated secondary attacked in other areas in London. Ealing has a good network of shops and transport so potentially it was more likely to be hit than Acton or Shepherds Bush. The shops in Westfield are shut and security from the businesses is far more stringent than in Ealing.

Of those who attacked Ealing I see it as being likely there were the older (later 20 year olds) coordinators who got a number of younger individuals to join in perhaps from both social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as using Blackberry as a communication channel. There were a number of teens who I think stole because they knew Ealing was to be targetted as well as many who may have been there or were there to watch.  Certainly video footage shows that some people were watching but not taking part.

I think the main point to make is that fewer young people took part in Ealing than elsewhere and teenagers need not all be brushed as rioters when few teens actually rioted. We need to provide role models for our youth and ensure that the Council and government works more effectively at skilling teenagers so they have greater chances to take part in the workforce and via apprenticeships or work trials.

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