Socialist Worker

Riot report lets the police off the hook

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2297

Police in Enfield, north London, arresting a “looter” last August  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Police in Enfield, north London, arresting a “looter” last August (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A government-appointed “independent” panel published its final report into the August riots last week.

The report by the Riots Communities and Victims Panel is meant to be the definitive word on what caused the riots and what should be done about them.

It is a travesty that goes out of its way to shield the police from any criticism and absolve them of any blame.

Most shockingly it declares that the issue of black people dying in police custody is a “myth”—because more white people have died in custody.

But this ignores the fact that the number of black people who die in custody is disproportionately high compared to the overall population.

The report talks a lot about the need to rebuild “public trust” in the police force.

It even recommends that police go out and “debunk myths on issues that affect the perception of their integrity, in particular around the death of black men in police custody”.

So, having let the police off the hook, who does get the blame for the riots?

The report grabbed headlines by asserting that 500,000 “problem families” are at the root of the problem.

Intervention

But the report gives no evidence for this claim whatsoever. In a report full of footnotes it simply asserts that “there are up to 500,000 families” that need “intervention”.

It displays them in a pyramid chart, sitting underneath 120,000 already in the government’s Troubled Families Programme.

Much is also made of issues like “absent fathers”. But the authors admit that this too is speculation without evidence.

“There are no data available to enable us to assess whether there is any link between the quality of parenting and the likelihood of an individual being involved in the riots,” the report says.

This is a report that spectacularly misses the point of what caused the riots. They wouldn’t have to look far to find the real reasons.

Last week the Independent Police Complaints Commission said there may never be a public inquest into the police killing of Mark Duggan, which sparked the riots.

It claims its “hands are tied”—even though it freely repeated the police’s lies in the early hours and days following Mark’s shooting.

The riots panel report calls for the police to “explode the myth” that Duggan’s shooting was an execution.

But the cops seem less than keen to tell us what really happened that day.


Riot report – absurd focus on 'personal resilience'

The riots panel was chaired by Darra Singh, former chief executive of Ealing council.

He was recently chair of New Labour’s Commission for Integration and Cohesion. Accountants Ernst & Young have hired him to advise councils on “efficiency”.

The report’s tone is set by its cover, which features smiling people with brooms cleaning up after the riots.

Inside are photos of Nick Clegg meeting police and small business owners at the “riots panel reception”. Ed Miliband pops up too.

One of the most absurd sections is titled “building personal resilience”. The report asserts that whether young people rioted or not was determined by how much “character” they have.

It then goes on to make up policies around this nebulous concept.

Schools, it says, should “publish their policies on building character” and “undertake regular assessments of pupils’ strength of character”.

Schools and teachers are a favourite target of blame.

The report proposes that schools should be fined if the children who attend are unable to read and write to a certain standard.

It goes on to suggests that mass youth unemployment can be solved by setting up “business ambassadors for local schools” and “neighbourhood Neet hubs”.


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