London riots' forgotten families: twice as many people in need of support 10 years on

Labour claim UK government has failed to implement inquiry's vital recommendations

Twice as many families are in need of government support a decade after the London Riots, a report by the UK's Labour Party has found.

Friday will mark the 10-year anniversary of the unrest, which saw the capital hit by rioting, looting and arson for five days before police re-established control, following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham, north London.

The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, which reported on the causes of the riots in 2012, found at the time that there were 500,000 so-called “forgotten families” in need of support, but who did not reach the threshold for help due to funding cuts to social services.

The panel made more than 60 recommendations to government, but subsequent research found the government had implemented only 11 of the recommendations

And in its own report, After the Riots: Ten Years On, released on Thursday, the Labour Party criticised the lack of progress made in the intervening decade.

It found that the social and economic conditions affecting communities as identified by the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel are worse now than they were in 2011, with many of the panel’s key recommendations still not delivered.

The report found that an effective 70 per cent cut to youth services, in-work poverty and lack of support for parents has worsened since the riots, while reoffending rates have remained at nearly the same high rate and public confidence in the police has dipped.

In addition, reductions in school funding and growing youth unemployment have eroded young people’s aspirations.

The party’s 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.

“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 Government chose to ignore the lessons of the riots, so the risks we face today seem higher than ever.”

Some have warned that mistrust between Britain's ethnic minorities and the police remains a major issue, particularly related to “stop and search”, which allows police to frisk people they suspect of carrying weapons or drugs on the streets.

In the year to March 2020, black people were nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in England and Wales. This controversial policy gained fresh resonance during last year's worldwide Black Lives Matter protests against racism and police brutality.

Last month, British lawmakers last month decried “persistent, deep-rooted and unjustified racial disparities” in policing and a “systematic failure” to tackle inequality.

Black and Asian officers remain underrepresented in the Metropolitan Police. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people account for 14 per cent of the total population, but only 7.6 per cent of officers in England and Wales of officers are from a BAME background.

Ken Hinds, 62, leads a stop and search monitoring group in north London and believes relations are “at an all-time low” between police and the black community.

“We're not seeing the lessons being learnt. What we improve today will get eroded tomorrow,” he told AFP.

During the riots at least five people died and the damage left the country with an estimated bill of about £500 million ($696m).

An interim report into the violence in November 2011 found that 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.

Updated: August 5th 2021, 4:59 PM