Thursday, 3 November 2011

Opportunism and dissatisfaction with police drove rioters, study finds

A government-funded study of the motivations of young people who took part in August's rioting has concluded they were driven by a combination of excitement, opportunism and dissatisfaction with the police.
The research, based on interviews with 50 young people involved in the disorder, looked at potential triggers for participation.
Penny Young, the chief executive of NatCen, which was commissioned to conduct the study fopr the Cabinet Office, said: "This is the first research to hear directly from young people about the riots.
"It is clear from the findings that there is no simple explanation as to why young people got involved, but it is extremely beneficial in aiding our insights into what happened and exploring different motivational factors."
The report studied the motivations of young people in five riot-affected areas and two areas in which there was no disorder, seeking to establish the moral and practical decisions made by the young people involved.
It said some young people saw the disorder as "something to do", adding: "The party atmosphere, adrenaline and hype were seen as encouraging and explaining young people's involvement by young people themselves and community stakeholders."
The document said they were motivated by "the thrill of getting free stuff – things they wouldn't otherwise be able to have", and antipathy towards the police.
The death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police initially prompted protests in Tottenham on 6 August, which were followed by rioting, motivated some in London to "get back" at the police, the report said.
It added: "Outside London, the rioting was not generally attributed to the Mark Duggan case. However, the attitude and behaviour of the police locally was consistently cited as a trigger outside as well as within London."
Researchers interviewed 206 people from some of the areas affected by the rioting. Of those interviewed, 133 were neither present during the riots nor involved in any way.
However, researchers did speak to about 50 people who admitted to being involved, almost all of whom are understood to have been suspects who were arrested and interviewed in custody. The study did not investigate the motives of the many older people involved.
Researchers highlighted "nudge and tug factors" they said were important in determining whether young people became involved in the disturbances. These ranged from the influence of parents and friends to the spread of information about the riots through the media, from television news to Twitter and BlackBerry.
The study also highlighted "societal factors" including a lack of youth provision and "poverty and materialism."
"Young people talked about the difficulty of managing on the money they received when out of work or in training," it said. "At the same time, a materialistic culture was cited as having contributed to looting by both young people and community stakeholders."

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