Readingthe Riots     Investigating        England’s       summer of         disorder
Reading   the RiotsForeword by Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief,the Guardian, and Professor Judith Rees,director, London S...
Reading the RiotsThe opportunity was there to expand this work andto embark on something truly ambitious: a full-scalestud...
mportant’ cause of                                                                  No 27%                                ...
Unemployment     79%                      34% The next three                                                              ...
Reading the Riots  involved did not consider these “race  riots”.•	Many rioters conceded their involvement  in looting was...
Reading the RiotsReporting, research and data analysis                      Core                     team                 ...
Reading the Riots      James       Fiona         Simon         Symeon        Paul        Sarahray   Ball        Bawdon    ...
Reading the RiotsIntroductionto the studyT               hough elements of the August               riots were recognisabl...
Reading the RiotsEngland. It was inspired by a study into theDetroit riots in 1967, involving a collaborationbetween the D...
Reading the RiotsMethodologicalapproachI      n the initial phase of Reading the Riots,      the aim was to focus on those...
Reading the Riotsple convicted of riot-related offences. However,    Causes:the large majority of the 270 people interview...
Reading the Riotsform of thematic analysis, taking an inductive,grounded ­ pproach, endeavouring to ensure            atha...
Reading the RiotsWho werethe rioters?W                        ho was involved in                        the riots? For obv...
28%                         Tend to agreeNo             65%                                                               ...
How the riotsunfoldedThe riots began as small-scale disorder inTottenham, north London, on 6 August. Whatbegan as a peacef...
Reading the Riots                                                                        Enfield                           ...
Reading the Riots                      Day 3 Disorder spreadsow     MONDAY 8 AUGUST The third night of dis-     order saw ...
Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsPolicingW                        hat emerges most                        strongly f...
Reading the Riots                               police being a direct result of their everyday      Stop and search:      ...
Reading the Riots                            We had total control of the precinct. There’s         CASE STUDY            ...
Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsGangsA                  mid the soul-searching, blame                  and accusati...
Reading the Riotso­ ffenders’ institution, described the economicbenefits of teaming up with other gangs from             ...
Reading the Riots  Everyone started joining in, different sides,                                                         ...
Reading the Riots                         Understanding                         the riots                                 ...
Reading the Riotssome people were there for justice for that boywho got killed. And the rest of them because ofwhat’s happ...
Reading the Riotsspread. In some cases, the view that changewas impossible was palpable. Asked whathe would like to see ch...
Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsShopping for free?A                  bout 2,500 shops and                  business...
Reading the Riots    Amid the sense that the rule of law wassuspended, many felt they were taking part in        £300ma fr...
Reading the Riots  Turned the news on, I saw police cars                                                         CASE STU...
Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsSocial mediaO                 ne feature of the August riots                 that d...
Reading the Riotsopen to anyone with a BlackBerry smartphone.Once users have swapped a PIN, they can sharemessages as ofte...
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Reading the-riots
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Reading the-riots


Published on

Achtergrondonderzoek rellen in Engeland (augustus 2011)

Published in: Education
1 Comment
  • Get Free Riot - Lol RP Codes - Online!
    Lol RP Code Generator
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Reading the-riots

  1. 1. Readingthe Riots Investigating England’s summer of disorder
  2. 2. Reading the RiotsForeword by Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief,the Guardian, and Professor Judith Rees,director, London School of EconomicsThe riots in early August 2011 were arguably the worstbout of civil unrest in a generation. However, unlikein the early 1980s there was to be no Scarman-styleinquiry into the causes. Meanwhile, politicians andothers rushed to pronounce on what had happened,and why, and to offer an array of policy solutions.While several reviews and investigations weresubsequently established, a number of very significantgaps in public understanding of the events remained.Most visible among these was what drew people outon to the streets for four nights in August and whatmotivated them? We’d had riots, but we knew littleabout the rioters. The Guardian had been at the forefront of thereporting of the riots, both in a traditional journalisticsense and much more broadly through the collectionand analysis of data from the courts as arrests andprosecutions mounted up. 1
  3. 3. Reading the RiotsThe opportunity was there to expand this work andto embark on something truly ambitious: a full-scalestudy of the riots and their aftermath. It was this thatled to the partnership with the LSE’s Social PolicyDepartment and, with the generous support of theJoseph Rowntree Foundation and Open SocietyFoundations, to Reading the Riots. We believe this will prove to be a landmark study.It is a unique collaboration between a nationalnewspaper and a leading university. Its overarchingaim has been to conduct high-quality social research ata speed and in a way that maximises its likelihood ofaffecting public and political debate without sacrificingany of its rigour. This report brings together the outcome of the firstphase of the study, focusing in a way that has notpreviously been possible on the nature, motivations,attitudes and experiences of those who rioted acrossLondon and in Birmingham, Manchester, Salford,Nottingham and Liverpool. 2
  4. 4. mportant’ cause of No 27% Yes 73% ‘excel Agree BritishheRioters % Guardian/ICM riots, 12% Disagree 81% Yes 73% British RiotersPoverty Guardian/ICM 86% 7% 12% Disagree Stop and search inPoverty 69%86% 7% Dont know London, 2009/2010 7% SOURCE: Stop and search in GUARDIAPolicing 69% 85% Of7% Dont know respondents Black people as a % of Londons London, 2009/2010 SOURCE: population 68%85% expressing a view, Black people as a % of Londons GUARDIAPolicing Of respondents when? 11% population 68%Government policy 80% expressing aReading the Riots view, when? 37% Not for four years or longer 11% ‘I feel 65%Government policy 80% Britis 37% Not for four ‘I feel 65%79%Unemployment 34% The next three years or longer Stron British Executive yearsUnemployment 79% 79% 34% The next three Stron Citizen years 29% The next year surveyShooting of 79% 75% Citizen summary Black people stopped andMark Duggan 29% The next Would you get year survey14Shooting of 51% 75% searched involved again? Black people stopped andMark Duggan Would you get searched 28% 14Social media 51% 74% Tend involved again? No 65%Social media 64%74% 28% Tend3 64%Media coverage 72% No 65% Yes 35% 3 3 73%Media coverage 72% Yes 35% SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH 37Greed 73% 70% All ag SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE 77% RESEARCH All ag RGreed 70% RESEARCH, POLICE POWERS & PROCEDURES BULLETIN SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSEInequality 77% 70% eading the Riots is a collaborative Age of those RESEARCH, POLICE POWERS & Number of interviewsInequality 61% 70% social research inquiry interviewed PROCEDURES BULLETIN Number of interviews London ­ 185 61% SOURCEBoredom 68% c ­ onducted by the Guardian 35+ GUARDIA London 67% and the Birmingham 185 of 25-34 7% SOURCE:Boredom 68% 30 London School 35+ 10-17 GUARDIA 10.5% 7%Criminality 67% 64% E ­ conomics, funded by the 30 Birmingham 25-34 29% 10-17Criminality 64% 86% 29 Manchester Joseph Rowntree Foundation 10.5% 21-24 16.5% % 29% MaleMoraldecline 56% 86% 29 Manchester and the Open Society ­ oundations. In its F 16 Liverpool 21-24 16.5% % 18-20 MaleMoral 56% 82% first phase, the study used confidential 16 Liverpool 7 Salford 32%decline 18-20Racial 54% 82% interviews with 270 people who were 7 Salford 32%tensions 56%Racial 54% 3 Nottingham directly involved in the riots in London,tensions Ethnicity Poor 40%56% M3 Nottingham Birmingham, ­ anchester, Salford, Liverpool Asian parenting 86% Mixed/ 4.5% FemaPoor 40% and ­ ottingham. N other Asianparenting 86% 17% Mixed/ 4.5% Fema 32% Four-fifths of the interviewees were male otherGangs 32% 75% and one-fifth female. Almost 30% were 17% % Black 47%Gangs ICM,SOURCE: 75%GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH juveniles (aged 10-17) and a further 49% White 26% % Black 47%SOURCE: ICM, WhiteGUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH were aged 18-25. In terms of self-identified 26% ethnicity, 26% of the sample were white, 47% black, 5% Asian, and 17% “mixed/other”. The basis of the study was in-depth, primarily qualitative interviews with rioters, the majority of which were conducted in the community, and a small minority in prison. Gen The primary aim of this aspect of the study Gend was to understand who had been involved in the riots and what their motivations were, together with a considered analysis of the role of gangs and of social media. This first phase, therefore, also involved a separate analysis by academics at Manchester University of a database of more than 2.5m riot-related tweets. 3
  5. 5. Unemployment 79% 34% The next three years 79% 29% The next year Shooting of 75% Black pe Mark Duggan 51% Would you get searched involved again? Social media 74% 64% No 65% Reading the Riots Media coverage 72% Yes 35% 73% SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCHThe main findings from the70% phase of the Greed first Locations of SOURCE: G 77% intervieweesstudy are: RESEARCH PROCEDU Inequality 70%• Widespread anger and frustration at people’s Number of interviews 61% every day treatment at the hands of police Boredom 68% London 185 was a significant factor in the summer riots 67% 30 Birmingham 25-3 in every major city where disorder took 10.5 Criminality 64% place. Of the 270 people interviewed, 85% 29 Manchester 86% 21-24 said policing was an “important” or “very 16.5% Moral 56% 16 Liverpool important” factor in why the riots happened.  decline 82%• At the heart of problematic relations with 7 Salford Racial 54% the police was a sense of a lack of respect tensions 56% 3 Nottingham as well as anger at what was felt to be Poor 40% discriminatory treatment. The focus of parenting Mixe 86% much resentment was police use of stop and oth 32% 17% search, which was felt to be unfairly targeted Gangs 75% and often undertaken in an aggressive and SOURCE: ICM, Whi discourteous manner. GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH 26%• Gangs behaved in an entirely atypical manner for the duration of the riots, temporarily suspending hostilities with their postcode rivals. The effective four-day truce applied to towns and cities across England. However, on the whole the role of gangs in the riots has been significantly overstated.• Contrary to widespread speculation at the time, the social media sites Facebook and Twitter were not used in any significant way by rioters. In contrast, the free messaging service available on BlackBerry phones – known as “BBM” – was used extensively to communicate, share information and plan in 81% advance of riots.• Although mainly young and male, those involved in the riots came from a cross- of those interviewed section of local communities. Just under said that they thought half of those interviewed in the study the riots would happen were students. Of those who were not in again, and 63% said education, 59% were unemployed. Although there would be more half of those interviewed were black, those riots within three years 4
  6. 6. Reading the Riots involved did not consider these “race riots”.• Many rioters conceded their involvement in looting was simply down to opportunism, saying that a perceived suspension of normal rules presented them with an opportunity to acquire goods and luxury items they could not ordinarily afford. They often described the riots as a The initial disturbances chance to obtain “free stuff”. in Tottenham, north• The evidence suggests rioters were London, were triggered by the police shooting of generally poorer than the country at Mark Duggan. This was large. Analysis of more than 1,000 court repeatedly mentioned as records suggests 59% of the England a grievance even outside rioters come from the most deprived 20% London. of areas in the UK. Other analysis carried out by the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice on young riot defendants found 64% came from the poorest fifth of areas – and only 3% came from the richest fifth.• Rioters identified a number of other motivating grievances, from the increase in tuition fees, to the closure of youth services and the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance. Many complained about perceived social and economic injustices. Anger over the police shooting of Mark Duggan, which triggered the initial disturbances in Tottenham, was repeatedly mentioned – even outside London.• More than four-fifths (81%) of those interviewed said that they thought that riots would happen again, and over one- third (35%) of those who expressed an opinion said that they would get involved if there were riots, while 63% said that they thought more riots would occur within three years. 5
  7. 7. Reading the RiotsReporting, research and data analysis Core team Paul Prof Tim Matthew Catriona James Lewis Newburn Taylor Mcgillivray Ball Research teamAster Harold Prof Rob Yemisi EricGreenhill Frayman Procter Adegoke AllisonBrendan Ben Suzanne Robert Jamie Alan SarahDonegan Ferguson Hyde Kazandjian Mitchell Morgan O’ConnAlexandra Amelia Shiv Mags Helen Sam JosephTopping Gentleman Malik Casey Clifton Kelly Metcalf AnaNick Helen Anthony Katinka SarahOwen Porter Schumacher Weber Eberhardt Twitter Alastair Marta Prof Rachel Vide research Dant Cantijoch Gibson Katie Yana Dr Andy Camero Loweth Manyukhina Hudson- Roberts Prof Rob Dr Farida Prof Mike Smith Proctor Sara Vis Thelwall Afshar Jonathan Dr Alex Steven Richards Voss Gray 6
  8. 8. Reading the Riots James Fiona Simon Symeon Paul Sarahray Ball Bawdon Rogers Brown Owen Hewitt Eric Aimee Ashton- David Marie-Aimée Rosa Hugh Allison Freeman Atkinson Brajeux Bransky Muir Sarah Elizabeth Raekha Kamara Josh Sonya O’Connell Pears Prasad Scott Surtees Thomas Josephine Daniel Carol Simon Helen Paul Metcalf Silver Cooper Jay Carter Cotterill Analysts Alex Kerris Rachel Rebekah Maggie Burch Cooper Deacon Diski Grant Video Christian Data Christine Alice Bennett research Ottery Judd Cameron Luisa John Dan Robertson Miller Ami Burn- Moore Sedghi Murdoch Sara Afshar Dimitris Lisa Akrivos Evans 7
  9. 9. Reading the RiotsIntroductionto the studyT hough elements of the August riots were recognisable in their origins and development when compared with previous riots on the mainland in the UK, the days following the initial disturbancesin Tottenham saw evidence of a type of sys-tematic looting that did not appear to fit withprevious experience. There was also some evi-dence that the disorder was subject to possiblysignificant geographical differences. A major political debate about the riots andthe appropriate policy response quickly gotunder way, but in its early stages it is probablyfair to say that it was characterised more byrhetoric than evidence. What was missing wassolid evidence, particularly in connection withthe rioters themselves. What led to the dis-turbances? Why did people riot, or loot? Whatwas in their minds as they did so? And, werethese riots similar to, or qualitatively differentfrom, what we have seen before? Reading the Riots was a direct response tothis information gap. It is the only researchstudy into the causes and consequences ofthe summer riots involving interviews withlarge numbers of people who were directlyinvolved. Jointly run by the Guardian and the 270 people were interviewedLondon School of Economics, the study’s aim in London, Birmingham,was to produce social research that would help Liverpool, Manchester,explain why the civil disorder spread across Salford and Nottingham 8
  10. 10. Reading the RiotsEngland. It was inspired by a study into theDetroit riots in 1967, involving a collaborationbetween the Detroit Free Press newspaper andMichigan’s Institute for Social Research. TheDetroit project, which challenged some of theassumptions about the causes of the unrest,used a standard survey technique to comparethe backgrounds, experiences and attitudes of The study into the 1967those who rioted with a much larger group of Detroit riots by the Detroitlocal citizens that did not.  Free Press newspaper and The first phase of Reading the Riots was com- the Institute for Social Research in Michiganpleted in three months, and used confidential provided an inspiration forinterviews with hundreds of people who were Reading the Riotsdirectly involved in the riots across six cities. Todo this, we decided that a primarily qualitativeframework – involving in-depth, free-flowinginterviews with rioters – would be the mostappropriate method. In addition, the first phasehas also involved a separate analysis by aca-demics at Manchester University of a databaseof more than 2.5m riot-related tweets. We began recruiting researchers with skills ininterviewing and good links with riot-affectedcommunities in September. More than 450 peo-ple applied for the roles from across the coun-try. A team of 30 researchers were selected andtrained with funding from the Joseph RowntreeFoundation and the Open Society Foundations.They spent October interviewing people whohad been involved in riots. The aim was toproduce as broad and deep a picture of the riotsas possible within a short period. Interviewerswere recruited to work across London and inBirmingham, Liverpool, Salford, Manchesterand Nottingham.  A second phase – to be completed early nextyear – will involve interviews with police, courtofficials, magistrates, defence lawyers, prosecu-tors, judges and a series of community-baseddebates about the riots. 9
  11. 11. Reading the RiotsMethodologicalapproachI n the initial phase of Reading the Riots, the aim was to focus on those involved, whether they were engaged in violence, arson, attacks on the police or looting. We wanted to know who they were, how they came to be out on the streets, whatmotivated them and how they felt about whathad occurred and what they had done. Our interviewers faced a difficult task: toidentify potential interviewees and persuadethem that it was valuable and safe to talk abouttheir experiences. The extent of this challengeshould not be underestimated. At the time ofthe interviews, the police were still makingmany arrests and raids in the communities inwhich the interviewers were working. Concernabout anonymity was understandably high. We wrote to 1,000 people who had beenarrested and charged during the riots, offeringthem the ­ pportunity to take part in the study. oR­ esearchers also visited their homes in person.But primarily, local contacts were used to findpeople who were involved but had not beenarrested. After being promised anonymity, asurprising number agreed to take part, often be-cause they wanted their story to be heard. Inter-views were conducted in a variety of locations – 1.3m words of first-personfrom homes, to youth clubs, cafes and fast food accounts from thoserestaurants. The Ministry of Justice also gave involved in the riots haveReading the Riots access to prisons, enabling been collated in a specialr­ esearchers to interview a small number of peo- database 10
  12. 12. Reading the Riotsple convicted of riot-related offences. However, Causes:the large majority of the 270 people interviewed general public v interviewees’for the project have not been arrested.  perceptions Interviewers were given a topic guide cover-ing the major themes that they should cover. Respondents who saidThey were tasked with finding out how people listed item was an The rio ‘important’ or ‘very happefirst heard about the riots, how they became important’ cause ofinvolved, how they communicated, what they the riots, % Agreedid, why they thought the riots stopped and Rioters Guardian/ICM 12%how they felt about their actions. The ­ uestions q Poverty 86%were deliberately neutral – asking leading ques- 69% 7%tions was discouraged. Each inter­ iew tended v Policing 85% Of resp 68% expresto last at least 45 minutes and allowed for an when?extended discussion – providing nuanced first- Government policy 80% 3person accounts of people’s experiences and 65%perspectives.  Unemployment 79% 34 Basic demographic data was collected about 79% 29%the interviewees, including where they lived, Shooting of 75% Mark Duggan 51% Wouldage and ethnicity, educational qualifications, involvprevious criminal history and whether they Social media 74% 64% Nowere in work. They were also asked survey-stylequestions, ranging from their thoughts on the Media coverage 72% Yes 3riots to their attitudes towards police. Each of 73% SOURCE: G RESEARCHthese questions was taken from a larger social Greed 70%survey for the purposes of comparison. 77% All interviews were recorded, transcribed Inequality 70% Numbeand stored in a database – in total more than 61% Londo1.3m words of first-person accounts from rioters Boredom 68%were collated. Rigour in the subsequent phase 67% 30– mostly undertaken in November – was vital as Criminality 64% 86% 29a team of five researchers, recruited at the LSE,began analysing the qualitative data. Moral 56% 16 L decline 82% The volume of material, the time­ cale of the s 7 Salfanalysis, and the necessity of protecting the Racial 54% tensions 56%rigour of the study posed a unique challenge. 3 NottThe aim was to ­ xamine the attitudes and e Poor 40% parenting 86%experiences of those involved in the riots. Thea­ nalytical team’s view was that key themes and 32%ideas should be allowed to emerge ­ irectly from d Gangs 75% SOURCE: ICM,the data. The primary method was therefore a GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH 11
  13. 13. Reading the Riotsform of thematic analysis, taking an inductive,grounded ­ pproach, endeavouring to ensure athat findings were located in the textual dataitself rather than focusing on the application ofpre-defined codes and categories as might occurin content analysis. The process began with an analyst readingthrough a whole transcript to get an overview. Work on the linksEach transcript was then coded thoroughly, so between variousthat particular themes could be identified and themes, includingevidenced. A list of coding labels was produced policing, communities– essentially themes and sub-themes – and these and the justice system,were reviewed by the research team on a regular will continue over thebasis. In order to check that the work was coming monthsconsistent, a proportion of interviews were readand coded by more than one analyst. The relationships between dozens of themesand sub-themes such as injustice, riot moti-vation, police, community, the role of socialmedia, were constantly updated, providing anever more detailed picture of why the riots hap-pened. The relationships between the themeswere recorded and displayed on a thematic map  It was like thedocument, allowing the team to see the larger, wild west oroverall picture. something. This also allowed the reliability and validity I rememberof the interviews themselves to be checked. laughing becauseEach interview was read and coded as a whole, … I think it mustwith attention paid to context and consistency have got a bitthroughout. Responses that were the result of indiscriminate,obviously leading questions were not included the shops [that]in the analysis document and were highlighted had been done …on the transcripts themselves. High and Mighty, This is an ongoing study in several senses. which is like theThe work on the rioters themselves is the first tall and bigphase, and will be followed by work on polic- mens’ clothesing, sentencing and the communities affected. shop, you knowEven this first phase, focusing on the rioters, will ­ ontinue, with the transcripts subjected to c Man, 23,further analysis in the months to come. Salford 12
  14. 14. Reading the RiotsWho werethe rioters?W ho was involved in the riots? For obvious  These young reasons, providing a people are definitive answer is coming out to difficult. The 2,000 prove they have people arrested and an existence,prosecuted, and on whom we have some to prove that ifinformation, may well not be entirely typical you dont listenof all those – estimated to be up to seven to them andtimes as many – who were involved in the you dont takedisturbances. into account Reading the Riots interviewed 270 people. our views,Of these, nearly 30% were juveniles (aged potentially this10-17) and a further 49% were aged 18-24 – a is a destructivepicture that closely matches Ministry of forceJustice data. In relation to ethnicity, the pictures emerging from the government and Man, mid-20s,Reading the Riots also matched reasonably north Londonclosely. Ministry of Justice data revealed thatwhere ethnicity was recorded, 37% of thoseappearing in the courts on riot-related chargeswere white, 40% were black and 6% Asian. The figures varied significantly from areato area, often closely resembling the ethnicmakeup of the local population: in London,32% of defendants were white, whereas inMerseyside the figure was 79%. Similarly inReading the Riots, though a larger proportionwere from an ethnic minority or of mixed race,this again varied significantly from area toarea, with the ethnic makeup of interviewees 13
  15. 15. 28% Tend to agreeNo 65% 39%Yes 35% 37%OURCE: GUARDIAN/LSEESEARCH All agree SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH, POLICE POWERS & 92% Reading the Riots PROCEDURES BULLETINNumber of interviews 51%London 185 SOURCE: ICM, 35+ GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH in Salford and Manchester overwhelmingly Gender of 30 Birmingham 25-34 7% white. 10.5% 10-17 interviewees 29% Perhaps the biggest difference between 29 Manchester 21-24 16.5% % official figures and Reading the Riots concerns Male 16 Liverpool women. Whereas only 10% of those appearing 18-20 7 Salford 32% before the courts were female, the proportion3 Nottingham was twice that in Reading the Riots. Though it is difficult to know what the precise breakdown Asian 79% might have been in the riots themselves, Mixed/ 4.5% Female other witness accounts suggest the number of 17% % women present was closer to the higher figure Black 47% represented in our research. White Evidence from 26% several sources suggests rioters were generally poorer than the country 21% at large, and educated to a lower level. Analysis of more than 1,000 court records held by the Guardian suggests 59% of rioters came from the most deprived 20% of areas in the UK. This is slightly lower than the Ministry of Justice picture of those prosecuted, which found that Gender almost two thirds of young riot defendants Male came from the poorest fifth of areas – and only 79% 3% came from the richest fifth. Much has been made by politicians and others of the previous criminal histories of Female those prosecuted for their involvement in 21% the riots. Ministry of Justice data suggested that 76% of suspects had a previous caution or conviction – significantly higher than the general population. Considerable caution is required, however, for this proportion is little different from the profile of those convicted in the crown court generally, and may also have been slightly inflated by arresting “the usual suspects” in the weeks after the riots. The Reading the Riots data supports this possibility, with a lower rate of previous offences, where a smaller proportion of rioters – 68% – admit to having previously received a caution or conviction. 14
  16. 16. How the riotsunfoldedThe riots began as small-scale disorder inTottenham, north London, on 6 August. Whatbegan as a peaceful protest against the policeshooting of a local black man, Mark Duggan, twodays earlier, turned into more serious violence.
  17. 17. Reading the Riots Enfield Tottenham Walthamstow Hackney Ealing Brixton Croydon Day 1 TottenhamSATURDAY 6 AUGUST Fewer than 100people gathered outside the police stationin Tottenham about 5pm, requesting to Day 2 Londonspeak with a senior police o∞cer aboutthe Mark Duggan case. Tensions grewand, shortly before 9pm, Duggan’s familydeparted when bottles were thrownand two police cars were set on fire. SUNDAY 7 AUGUST Disturbances beganFor several hours, police lost control of the following day six miles north ofTottenham High Road as the crowd began Tottenham, in Enfield. There were initiallystarting fires, looting and fighting running skirmishes in the town centre, about 7pm,battles with police. After midnight, police and more serious disorder broke out asreturned some order to the high street, night fell. Unlike the previous nights, therebut were unable to prevent intense looting were fewer clashes with police, with mostat Tottenham Hale retail park and – two of the disorder based around the lootingmiles west – hundreds of people began of shops and retail outlets across thelooting shops in Wood Green. Police did borough.not bring the looting to an end until dawn. In Brixton in south London, there were similar disturbances following the Brixton Splash music festival. After fighting police, the crowd looted a number of Brixton shops, including a large branch of Currys that was raided for several hours. There were minor outbreaks of disorder elsewhere in London, including Oxford Circus, Hackney and Waltham Forest. 16
  18. 18. Reading the Riots Day 3 Disorder spreadsow MONDAY 8 AUGUST The third night of dis- order saw one of the most intense 24 hours of civil unrest in recent English history. In London, 22 out of the 32 boroughs would be a≠ected in disturbances the Metropolitan Police described as “unprec- edented in the capital’s history”. Riots began shortly before 5pm in Hackney, Day 4 A show of force where there were sustained battles against police, before spreading across the capital. Some of the worst a≠ected areas included Clapham Junction, Lewisham, Catford, Peckham, Woolwich, Wembley and Ealing, where Richard Bowes, 68, was critically injured after confronting looters. TUESDAY 9 AUGUST The fourth night saw The worst of the disorder was in unprecedented numbers of police in the Croydon – the scene of widespread arson, capital, with 16,000 o∞cers deployed. and the place where Trevor Ellis, 28, was London was comparatively quiet, with shot dead. Meanwhile, the first riots began only minor skirmishes. However, rioting elsewhere in England. The Midlands, continued in other parts of England, Birmingham, West Bromwich and Notting- including Gloucester, Liverpool, ham all saw serious unrest. Clashes with Nottingham and Birmingham, where three police also began in Liverpool. However, men – Haroon Jahan, 21, Shazad Ali, 30, there were outbreaks of disorder in dozens and Abdul Musavir, 31 – were killed while of other locations across England, includ- protecting shops. The most widespread ing parts of the Medway in Kent, Thames disturbances took place in Greater Valley, Bristol, Leeds and Huddersfield. Manchester; clashes with police began in the late afternoon in Salford, followed by intense looting of retail outlets in Manchester city centre. 17
  19. 19. Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsPolicingW hat emerges most strongly from the interviews in the Reading the Riots research is a long- burning frustrationand anger with the police that, for those fewAugust days, resulted in widespread civilunrest. Of the 270 people we interviewed,85% said policing was an “important” or  You see the“very important” factor in why the riots rioting yeah?happened. For many, the spark was the Everything theshooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. To police have donethem, it symbolised the most extreme end to us, did to us,of a spectrum of targeted, unjust and brutal was in our heads.treatment to which they perceive they are That’s what gavesubjected. everyone their Nowhere was this shared negative adrenalineperception more vividly ­ xpressed than in e to want to fightthe fact many of our respondents, living in the police …opposite ends of the country, used versions It was becauseof the same phrase to describe the force: of the way they“The police is the biggest gang out there” treated us– emphasising how they felt officers to be a collective law unto themselves. In Liverpool, Man, 20,for example, a 23-year-old man who took part from Londonin the riot in Toxteth, when asked what theword ‘gang’ means to him said: “People whotry and intimidate members of the public. Tome the worst gang is the police though.” Many talked of their antipathy towards the 18
  20. 20. Reading the Riots police being a direct result of their everyday Stop and search: confrontations with officers in cities where the interviewees’ experience the disturbances took place. One 17-year- old Muslim in full-time work in Tottenham Have you been stopped and searchedRespondents who said recalled being stopped by police on his way in the last 12 months? Respo sted item was an The riots will police to school at the age of 13: “One of them said: mportant’ or ‘very happen again generamportant’ cause of ‘Mate, why don’t you ask him where Saddam No 27% ‘excell he riots, % is. He might be Agree to help out’81% able … They’re Yes 73% Rioters Guardian/ICM British supposed to be law enforcement … I don’t 12% DisagreePoverty 86% hate the policing system, I hate the police on 7% Stop and search in 69% 7% Dont know London, 2009/2010 the street. I hate them from the bottom of my SOURCE: B GUARDIANPolicing 85% Of respondents Black people as a % of Londons heart.” population 68% expressing a view, Race is never far from the surface of the when? 11%Government policy 80% first-person accounts of rioters. The most 37% Not for four years or longer ‘I feel 65% British acute sense of a longstanding mistrust wasUnemployment 79% 34% The next three among black interviewees. Many referred to Strong years 79% specific incidences of black people dying in Citizens 29% The next year surveyShooting of 75% custody or during police raids. Memories of Black people stopped andMark Duggan Would you get 14 51% searched black people in Tottenham whose deaths have involved again?Social media 74% 28% Tend t been linked to police hands don’t fade easily 64% No 65% – perhaps making Duggan’s death even more 3Media coverage 72% potent. Yes 35% 37 73% Nowhere was theGUARDIAN/LSE out of black SOURCE: singling RESEARCHGreed 70% people more apparent in the minds of the All agr SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE 77% rioters than when the police use stop and RESEARCH, POLICE POWERS & PROCEDURES BULLETINnequality 70% search. Overall, 73% ofof interviews Number people interviewed in 61% the study had been stopped and searched atBoredom 68% London 185 SOURCE: least once in the past year. In our research, the 35+ GUARDIA 67% 25-34 7% frequent complaint of a sense of harassment 30 Birmingham 10.5% 10-17Criminality 64% 29% by those interviewees on the receiving end 86% 29 Manchester of stop and search was made in every city the 21-24 16.5% % MaleMoral 56% research took place Liverpool interviewees from 16 and bydecline 82% 18-20 different racial groups and ages.  7 Salford 32%Racial 54% Rioters recounted how they sought ensions 56% 3 Nottingham revenge by wanting to hurt, intimidate, targetPoor 40% Asian and indiscriminately attack officers. Others 4.5%parenting 86% Mixed/ Femal described how they threw stones and other 32% 17% bottles; rammed police with wheelie binsGangs 75% and shouted “Fuck the police”. % Black 47%OURCE: ICM, WhiteUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH Some spoke of how they targeted police 26% 19 Gend
  21. 21. Reading the Riots  We had total control of the precinct. There’s CASE STUDY a massive police station there, and they couldn’t Unemployed man, do anything. It was ours for a day. Salford was 22, who was present more like a party atmosphere. Everyone was stood at the Manchester around, drinking… smoking weed, having a laugh. and Salford riots People weren’t threatening the public. There was people there to get on a rob [loot], there for the spectacle, there to have a go at police. And then people there for all of the above. We hate the police, hate the government, got no opportunities ... Manchester was like a bloodbath. The police were mental, using TAU [Tactical Aid Unit] vans as weapons … we was only there for an hour. We thought: ‘This is madness; let’s go back to Salford.’ These aren’t gangs. The kids just did what they wanted to do ’cos they wanted to do it, not because some gang boss orchestrated it to get back at the police. There’s thousands of people operating all over the city in organised crime. Obviously you have to work together to operate. But in terms of power structure, there isn’t one. I became involved in the riots in Salford because it was a chance to tell the police, tell the government, and tell everyone else for that matter that we get fucking hacked off around here and we won’t stand for it.  property: setting fire to and vandalising cars, Satisfaction vans and police stations, or deliberately tried with the police Have you been to inflict injurystopped and searched on officers. The mayhem saw in the last 12 months? Respondents sayingThe riots will rioters take control back, in their own minds, police in their areahappen again from the clutches of the police – who were generally do an No 27% ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ jobAgree 81% seen as a corrupting influence in the Yes 73% British Crime Survey 56% community. This is not to justify the riots 12% Disagree but in part explains why, for many rioters, 7% Reading the Riots Stop and search in 7% Dont know they are not troubled by the moral London, 2009/2010 SOURCE: BCS, GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCHOf respondents implications of what occurred. Black people as a % of Londons population xpressing a view,when? 11% 37% Not for four 20 ‘I feel I am part of years or longer British society’ 34% The next three Strongly agree years Citizenship 29% The next year survey 53% Black people stopped andWould you get searched 14% Reading the Riotsnvolved again?
  22. 22. Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsGangsA mid the soul-searching, blame and accusations that followed the most serious UK riots seen in a generation, one reason for the unrest could frequently be heard. Gangs had played animportant role, it was argued, rallying troopsand leading the violence that ripped throughEngland’s cities.  After initially claiming that as many as 28% Gangs were atof those arrested in London were gang mem- the heart of thebers, the Metropolitan police revised this to protests and have19%, a figure that dropped to 13% countrywide. been behind theAlthough the crude numbers by themselves do co-ordinatednot indicate with any certainty what the role attacksof gangs was, the changing police estimates prompted leading politicians to downplay David Cameron,their earlier suggestion that gang members had 11 August 2011played a pivotal role in the riots.  Reading the Riots suggests that they wereright to do so. Gang members were certainlypresent in many of the disturbances. In somecases they may have played an important role,though there is little indication that they wereorchestrating the riots. Some intervieweessuggested that while they did not believe gangswere controlling the riots, their ability to pro-vide numbers and to organise had played a partin how elements of the riots developed. One 16-year-old gang member from Brixton,who had already served time in a young 21
  23. 23. Reading the Riotso­ ffenders’ institution, described the economicbenefits of teaming up with other gangs from  The governmentnearby areas. “There was no reason to fight needed someone[...] everyone could just team up together and to blame andwhen they team up, obviously there’s more [put] everythingstrength,” he said. “Like one person can’t lift together underup a shutter, so to come together and become gangs. I dontone big group and be able to lift up something’s believe therethat heavy like that, it just shows that people was muchcan work together. Even if they don’t like each planned ganglandother and get what they want.” activity. I believe Importantly, what most of the reports on there was a lotthe riots thus far have missed is that the four of angry, verynights of rioting saw a truce as otherwise working-class,hostile gangs suspended ordinary hostilities to disillusionedfocus on other targets. The majority of those young men thatwho took part, from London to Liverpool, realised hangManchester to ­ irmingham, denied that gangs B on a minute,had caused or exacerbated the unrest, arguing its going offinstead that for the short period when England was in the grip of the riots, for all practical Man, 21,purposes there had been a truce. Salford Gang members came together to capitaliseon what they saw as an economic opportunity,or to hit back at “the authorities”, whether thegovernment or police. The majority of those involved who werequestioned spoke knowledgeably about gangs,as a real and daily presence in their lives, butrepeatedly expressed surprise, and oftend­ elight, that during the riots the postcodewarfare that was for them a fact of life had – fora short time – melted away. A sense of a common enemy, a commoncause, brought members of gangs from differ-ent territories – gangs partly defined by theirdefence of territory and hostility to thosefrom other turfs – to co-operate for as long asthe disturbances lasted. In Birmingham, oneman in his 20s, said that it was “us, the youth 22
  24. 24. Reading the Riots  Everyone started joining in, different sides,   CASE STUDY different parts of town. They got bricks, started Boy, 16, who smashing the windows, smashing the shops. It was was convicted of exciting, because we all had the intention to rob theft during the something, get something for free, you know what Birmingham riots I mean? … The first thing that came to my mind? Let’s get wild, let’s do it. There was no emotions. There weren’t no gangs. I didn’t know no one there, but we all got together that day, the Asians, the blacks, the whites. It felt like we were like one big gang. We took over Birmingham. Normally we don’t get along. [But] we weren’t fighting each other, we were fighting the police. Now I regret being involved … now I got kicked out of college, I got a court case coming, I’m wasting my education. I’m just on the streets doing nothing. My friends weren’t there that day I got arrested, so they don’t know. ’Cos I ain’t told them. It’s not a good thing I’ve done; it’s nothing to be proud about. If I hadn’t been arrested, I’d be living a life of crime every day. If no one’s stopping me from committing [a crime] again, I’d keep doing a crime. What I really noticed that day was that we had control. It felt great. We could do what we wanted to do. We could do as much damage as we can, and we could not be stopped. Normally the police control us. But the law was obeying us, know what I mean? and the rioters against the police. I seen ladsfrom different gangs, from different sides ofB­ irmingham, on a normal street out therethey’d be shooting each other, like, without adoubt, but there was both stood around thesame area like, all in black, paying no attention... I was happy that, to see them walk past,they didn’t start no trouble or nothing”. 23
  25. 25. Reading the Riots Understanding the riots Have you been stopped and searched in the last 12 months? Respondents saying Inequality he riots will police in their area appen again generally do an No 27% ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ jobAgree 81% Yes 73% British Crime Survey 56% 12% Disagree 7% Reading the Riots ‘I Stop and search in 7% Dont know London, 2009/2010 still to this day don’t class it as a riot,” Integration into SOURCE: BCS, GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCHOf respondents Black people as a % of Londons mainstream said one young man in Tottenham. “I population xpressing a view, societywhen? think it was a 11%protest.” He was far from Not for four 37% years or longer alone. A consistent theme emerging ‘I feel I am part of from the experiences of the rioters British society’ 34% The next three Strongly agree years across England was that they harboured ­ Citizenship 29% The next year a range of grievances and it was their anger and survey 53% frustration that was being expressed out on the Black people stopped and 14% Reading the RiotsWould you get searchednvolved again? streets in early August. 28% Tend to agree Their testimony challenges the conventionalNo 65% wisdom about the riots: that what began as 39%Yes 35% a protest against the police shooting of Mark 37%OURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE Duggan was stripped of political meaning ESEARCH All agree before it spread across the country, fuelled by SOURCE: GUARDIAN/LSE “mindless” and “copycat” opportunists. RESEARCH, POLICE POWERS & 92% PROCEDURES BULLETIN umber of interviews They expressed it in different ways, but 51%London at heart what the rioters talked about was a 185 SOURCE: ICM, pervasive sense of injustice. For some this 35+ GUARDIAN/LSE RESEARCH 30 Birmingham 25-34 7% was economic – the lack of a job, money or 10.5% 10-17 29% opportunity. For others it was more broadly 29 Manchester 21-24 social, not just 16.5% % the absence of material things, Male 16 Liverpool but how they felt they were treated compared 18-20 7 Salford with others. 32% The 270 people interviewed by Reading the 3 Nottingham Riots researchers had varied backgrounds and Asian 79% lives. But what a Mixed/ many shared, and talked great 4.5% Female other animatedly about, was injustice and ­ nequality. i 17% Predictably, these meant different things to dif- % Black 47% ferent people, but the term that kept cropping White up was “justice”. 26% A woman in her 30s, who had been involved 21% in the riots in north London, said: “I think 24 Gender Male 79%
  26. 26. Reading the Riotssome people were there for justice for that boywho got killed. And the rest of them because ofwhat’s happening. The cuts, the governmentnot doing the right thing. No job, no money.And the young these days needs to be heard.It’s got to be justice for them.” For many, the central issue was not havinga job or any prospect of a job. Among our re-spondents who were of working age and not in education at the time of the riots, a little over All I can tell youhalf were unemployed. A number talked about is that me, myselflooting or vandalising shops where they had and the group Iearlier sought jobs. One young Salford man put was in, none ofit succinctly: “If I had a job I wouldn’t be here us have got jobs,now, yeah? I’d be working.” yeah? I been out of Time after time, young people especially work now comingmentioned lack of opportunities, the cuts up two years …and the ending of the education maintenance and its just like a depression, man,a­ llowance (EMA). While the ending of the EMA that you sinkis an unlikely motivation for a riot, and only into … I felt likea minority of those we interviewed will have I needed to bereceived it, the references to it indicate a disil- there as well tolusionment with a wider set of social changes just say Look, this– changes collectively that may be further is whats gonnamarginalising those who already felt socially happen if theresdisadvantaged and peripheral. no jobs offered to Undoubtedly, the rioters were a group who us out therefelt dislocated from the opportunities theysaw as available to others. When asked if they  Man, 22,felt “part of British society”, only 51% said Londonthey agreed with the statement, against 92%of the population as a whole. For the young inparticular – and more than four-fifths of thosewe interviewed were aged 24 or under – whatcame across was a profound sense of aliena-tion. As one north Londoner in his mid-20s putit: “When no one cares about you you’re gonnaeventually make them care, you’re gonna causea disturbance.” This sense of being invisible was wide- 25
  27. 27. Reading the Riotsspread. In some cases, the view that changewas impossible was palpable. Asked whathe would like to see change, one 19-year-oldu­ nemployed man from Birmingham simplysaid: “Fuck knows, dunno, don’t really careabout that no more. I’ve gone past caring. Justthink there’s no point in me wishing, wantingthings to happen.” In the face of such apparent hopelessness,it is perhaps unsurprising that many of thosewe interviewed thought that further riotswere likely. Not least, it seems, because manyfelt that little was likely to change. When I left my house … it wasn’t anything   CASE STUDYto do with the police … I literally went there to say, Man, 22, from‘All right then, well, everyone’s getting free stuff, south London,I’m joining in’, like, ’cos, it’s fucking my area. These who talks aboutfucking shops, like, I’ve given them a hundred CVs unemployment and… not one job. That’s why I left my house. why he looted It’s not like I haven’t got GCSEs … but I seepeople with no GCSEs nothing like that, and they’reworking in places. Like somewhere like Tesco. I’mnot being funny like, I don’t need any GCSEs to workin Tesco. But I’ve got them. So here’s my CV. I don’tneed A-levels, but you know, here’s my CV. Why haven’t I even got [an] interview? … I feellike I haven’t [been] given the same opportunitiesand chances as other people … If I had a job … Ihonestly wouldn’t have stolen nothing … Like you could work in Tesco but … Tesco couldmake you feel like you’re a valuable worker, andyou could be on £5 an hour. But it doesn’t matter,yeah, ’cos you feel you’re worth something youwould never jeopardise that. Because that feeling’sbetter than making £10 an hour. Do you see whatI’m saying? And that’s what I feel like: people are notworth anything in this area  26
  28. 28. Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsShopping for free?A bout 2,500 shops and businesses are estimated to have been looted during the riots across England this summer. Looting was – according to the breakdownof criminal charges – the most common typeof unlawful activity. Across England, lootersappeared attracted to fashion retailers and stores containing high-value goods – the It was likeelectrical store ­ urrys was a common target, C Christmas; it wasas were jewellery shops. But looters also so weird …spoke about how they broke into cheap People weresupermarkets, such as Lidl and Aldi. The cost picking things upin insurance claims to the London economy like it was in theiralone was estimated to be up to £300m. But homes and it waswhy did the looting happen? What pushed there already …people, many of whom told us they had never it was like is thisbeen in trouble with the police ­ efore, to enter b a trick? You wantshops that had been broken into and help to do it but youthemselves to what they wanted? dont, because The hundreds of looters interviewed as part you dont knowof the Reading the Riots study reveal complex and varied motivations. It was down to Girl, 16,simple greed, say some. One 19-year-old from Lavender Hill, LondonHackney, who looted in Wood Green on thefirst night of the disturbances, put it in starkterms: “The rioting, I was angry. The looting,I was excited. Because, just money. I don’tknow, just money-motivated. Everything thatwe done [was] just money-motivated.” 27
  29. 29. Reading the Riots Amid the sense that the rule of law wassuspended, many felt they were taking part in £300ma free-for-all with no consequences. “It would Total cost to the economyhave been like a normal shopping day … but of riots-related insurance claims in London alonewith no staff in the shop,” said an 18-year-oldwoman from Lambeth. But in many interviewsthose involved talked of getting their “just HIT BY THE RIOTSrewards”, of reacting to a society fuelled of 2,278 commercialby greed, resenting being excluded from a premises for which datac­ onsumerist world and placing some of the was availableblame on big business and advertising. Interviewees – particularly younger looters 61%– talked about the pressure and “hunger” for were retail premisesthe right brand names. There was a culture of“wanting stuff”, said one 18-year-old. “It’s like, 265 were shops sellingseen as if you’re not wearing, like, and you’re electrical goods, computer games, mobile phones,poor, no one don’t want to be your friend.” CDs, DVDs; 12% of total The same businesses were named time andagain: Foot Locker, PC World, mobile phone 233outlets. JD Sports lost £700,000 of stock ­ uring d shops selling clothing andthe riots and was a key target: a 16-year-old girl sportswear; 10% of totalfrom Lavender Hill went so far as to say that, inthe days following the riots, her room “looked 219 restaurants and cafes –like JD Sports”. But there was little sympathy including fast food outlets;among looters. “JD is making like what – £50 10% of totaloff a shoe?” said a 20-year-old from Clapham.Looters found it harder to justify why they 213 small independentbroke into small, independent retailers. These retailers; 9% of totalwere often the easiest to break into and 213were hit. 181 supermarkets; 8% of total Many of those who took part described a SOURCE: HOME OFFICEsense of euphoria during the looting, combined ­with a disbelief that they were not beingstopped as police struggled to cope. “It was justeveryone was ­ miling. It was literally a festival swith no food, no dancing, no music but a freeshopping trip for everyone,” said one 16-year-old girl from Wandsworth. For others, there was a sense of personalr­ egret. A 15-year-old girl described being scared 28
  30. 30. Reading the Riots  Turned the news on, I saw police cars   CASE STUDY getting burnt. I thought it’ll die down, the police Business student, will take control and then it started escalating. 19, from London, I get a few phone calls: ‘Come down, whatever, who says he made go riot and stuff.’ Think, all right, we’ll go down £2,500 from looting there. Personally I didn’t plan to rob anything, in Wood Green, but, we were just there and we were provoking north London the police, we weren’t really stealing anything … Bruce Grove ... off-licence there. We took a few things and someone came up with the idea like, if we spread this could the police like, control it? ... We had one motive, that was to get as many things as we can and sell it on ... what I did was, go to phone shops, get as many phones as you can, sell them to [an online company that buys phones]… used someone else’s bank account … Split between us, my part alone, I got two and a half grand. I don’t condone it [the looting] but like, it’s like, it’s helped me out financially … I should look back on my values and my morals that my parents taught me … but for that, snap, that night, I look back to my own 14-year-old self. I wanna get it now. I want it now. That’s what it was. and unwilling to take part when the riotsflared up in her area. “Then, after it all kickedoff and everyone was doing it, you just joinedin and it felt fine. It just felt natural, like youwas just naturally shopping,” she said. But subsequently she handed herself in tothe police, and, asked what she thought abouther actions now, she said: “I’m ashamed. Tothink that I went that low to go steal in theseshops when they’re, like, basically that’s theirbusiness, that’s how they’re providing fortheir families, and we’ve basically ruined thatand they’ve got to start from scratch.” 29
  31. 31. Reading the RiotsUnderstandingthe riotsSocial mediaO ne feature of the August riots that distinguished them from previous civil ­ isturbances was d the widespread availability of social media and mobile phone t ­ echnology. Some commenta-tors raised significant concerns about the roleof Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messen-ger (BBM), suggesting that they had played animportant part in the organisation and spreadof the riots. Some even called for the tempo-rary closure of some social media. Throughinterviews with the rioters themselves, andan analysis of a Twitter database obtained by £5the Guardian, Reading the Riots is able to offera unique insight into the place and role of themedia in the recent civil disorder. Within hours of the first disturbances in the monthly cost of using a BlackBerry.Tottenham late on Saturday, a message pinged The free and secure BBMout, first on to a few phones, then dozens, ­ messaging network wasthen hundreds across north London. used extensively by the “Everyone in edmonton enfield wood rioters to pass messages green everywhere in north link up at to each other enfield town station at 4 o clock sharp!!!! Start leaving ur yards n linking up with your niggas. Fuck da feds, bring your ballys and your bags trollys, cars vans, hammers the lot!!”The message was sent through the BBM net-work: a free mobile phone messaging service 30
  32. 32. Reading the Riotsopen to anyone with a BlackBerry smartphone.Once users have swapped a PIN, they can sharemessages as often as they like, and at the touchof a button, send a broadcast (or “ping”) toeveryone on their contact list. This extraordi-narily efficient – and secure – communicationsnetwork was a key tool for many who tookpart in England’s riots, as an easy way to shareinformation on where looters were, safe routeshome, and what police were doing.  Originally, it While the government debated whether started off, it wasto shut down Twitter, or prosecute Facebook like, yes, it wasusers, it was BBM that was actually playing a a group of blacksubstantive role in the riots, according to those people, the familywho took part. Being able to keep up with members andfriends 24 hours a day for only £5 a month, and friends … But Iwith the cost of a handset sometimes as low as seen Hasidic Jews£40, a BlackBerry was a major draw for many from Stamfordpeople, especially as many were from families Hill, who wereon low incomes. down there. I “I don’t know about Twitter and Facebook, seen lots of whiteneither do I have an account with them,” says people. I seena former supermarket worker who joined the guys from shops,looting of a Carphone Warehouse. “All I know Turkish, it turnedis that the Blackberry was enough to give me out … it was allenough information, or tell me at the time, of like the wholewhat was going on, where to stay wary of and neighbourhoodwhat sort of things were targeted.” came out. The BBM broadcasts had been used by neighbourhoodT­ ottenham residents to share information on knew it wasthe circumstances surrounding the death of all wrongMark Duggan, the event that sparked the initial ­ [shooting of Markriots. These broadcasts detailed mistrust in the Duggan]. Butpolice and the IPCC over Duggan’s death. “At sadly it was thefirst people were sending around broadcasts neighbourhoodabout Mark Duggan, ’cos I knew a couple of that got trashedpeople that knew Mark Duggan, so they were sending broadcasts saying ‘he was a good Man who set fireperson, ‘hes innocent,” said one person who to police car intook part in the initial protest on Saturday. Tottenham 31