Riots. Social response or Criminal opportunism?

The link below is to a map of flashpoints and riot events in London.,-0.056305&spn=0.39294,0.630341&z=10&source=embed

As a Scotsman, I feel for those suffering under the riots and thank goodness that it isn’t happening here (but it could have).

What is a riot?

Defn ‘ A violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.’

A riot is an expression of displeasure, an expression of an underlying problem.  The notion that this serious string of rioting is a copycat or an outbreak of criminal behaviour is simplistic in the extreme.  Have we  learned nothing since Toxteth and Brixton in the 80’s.

The behaviour is the criminal element.  The Riot is symptomatic of  much deeper problems.

If people (mostly young) have no means to resolve the issues that blight their society or situation, at some point it will explode into behaviour that the rest of us abhor.  When the societal systems fail (metropolitan Police, Politicians, Media, welfare, housing, wealth distribution) then the powder keg is being primed.  We have had all of these very recently, but we have had a drift of these over many years.  The systems have being failing the people for years.  The prospects that many of these (young) people see ahead are bleak and have no sign of improving.  Lives of quiet desperation looming for many.  A paucity of hope and positive messages are having an impact.

In no way am I saying that wrecking the place and looting are acceptable.  They aren’t and it’s counter productive.  The riots will disguise the need to resolve the problems and will not lead to an addressing of the problem.  The causes of poverty and the impact of deprivation are wide-ranging.  Not all poor people riot, however.  It is the widening gaps between the have’s and have-nots that cause the growing dissatisfaction and resentment (it is a comparative issue).

When the spark comes then the keg explodes.  Young people (mostly) have collectively stuck two fingers up to the society that ignores and disadvantages them and the looting is an opportunity to profit from the chaos.  There is no understanding of the impact on their own communities and the further blight they are bringing on themselves.  The breakdown of many communities have reduced the feeling of belonging that prevents many from wrecking where they live.

The chance to confront authority and lash out at the embodiment of the policies that have contributed to their situation is why the Police are facing such violent opposition.  The police don’t always get it right (and often get it wrong) but they need to be supported by the rest of the community and families.

Opportunist looting is taking place (adults and kids at it) because the likelihood of getting caught is limited.  When we think (collectively) that there is no chance of getting caught then behaviours change and opportunity to profit is taken.  Looting is an attempt to redress the balance in terms of wealth distribution.  They can’t afford the big TV or newest phone and the opportunity to get one at the expense of the ‘faceless’ corporations presents itself, many will take it.

So Rioting, is it a social response?  Yes.

Is it Criminal opportunism? Yes.

Criminal behaviour has to be pursued through the courts and we all know that the first priority is to stem the lawlessness.  The more important action will be a longer term review of how we address the root causes of the problems.







Posted on August 9, 2011, in Political matters and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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