Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Who is rioting?

Who would have thought in a time of heavy cut backs in police, military, benefits and community services, in a time of economic crisis, political discontent and global unrest that the UK would see rioting... it sounds so simple when you put it that way but these riots seem to be more a looting and arson spree than a statement of discontent. Its very difficult to take a line, are these people simply mindless and violent thieves or the victims of a society which has failed to deal with certain areas of long term depravity and deteriorating social responsibility.
There is a lot of talking around about what turns a person into a looter or a rioter? A lot of the arrested are criminals that have been perilously arrested, it seems a lot of the looting is simply a result of criminals uniting to over run the police. While there may be some individuals rioting for ideological reason the vast majority are rioting for the pleasure of destruction and reward of theft. These riots may have been started in response to a young man being shot dead by police when he may not have had a gun but now in the 3rd day there is no political reason driving it. 
Pictures like this of a boy being mugged while he bled some up the mentality of the looters; theft.

While these rioters are criminals and clearly need to be dealt with there is an issue, what turned these people to this. In the long term why have these youth's decided the path of criminality is best?
That is a deep social issue and it is linked to unemployment, upbringing, social mobility and education. The areas many of these individuals come from are areas of high relative poverty. These young people have made the decision that they gain more benefit from looting than obeying the law. This is a decision that can be influenced, perhaps if the punishment was worse they would not riot. Perhaps if they had more options. Perhaps if the draw back from rioting came from within, if they believed it was wrong! Dealing with these problem can help reduce crime but the problem is it requires money, something the government is short of. These events are everyone's problem and we are all a little bit responsible.
There are huge negative externalities for all of society to bare if we don't deal with this
At the end of the day, though, these people are not reflective of the UK or the youth of the UK. What ever reason is driving their actions it is uncalled for. What is necessary is control to be restored so mass theft and burning of homes is stopped, what we need to make sure is that we don't give up on these areas of depravity. The worse thing we can do is to label people and write of areas as thug foundries, some say we need a much bigger stick (or water cannon?) but we also need a carrot too. Think short term and long term, cutting back the stick and removing the carrot will only lead to an enviroment for this behavior to re-occur. 

No comments:

Post a Comment