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Youngsters blame poverty for riots

Young people believe poverty is one of the key reasons behind the August riots, according to a new survey.

Behind the Riots, a survey commissioned by The Children's Society, found most 13 to 17-year-olds and adults believed that a reason why people became involved in the trouble that blighted the country was "to get goods and possessions they couldn't afford to buy".

The charity polled 1,004 adults and 1,077 13 to 17-year-olds from across the UK in an online survey between October 3 and November 10. It said they gave a mixed picture overall, with most choosing more than one reason why the riots happened.

But 57% of 13 to 17-year-olds and 66% of adults thought people became involved to get goods and possessions they could not afford to buy.

Some 49% of 13 to 17-year-olds and 63% of adults thought they became involved "just for fun". And 47% of 13 to 17-year-olds and 53% of adults thought they felt pressure to join in from others taking part.

The report also found the majority of adults and children (51% and 56% respectively) believed the Government should be doing more to support young people since the riots.

The findings come as Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the riots might have been avoided if police had "appreciated the magnitude of the task".

His comments come after Home Secretary Theresa May called for people to stop making excuses for those involved, saying that August's riots were simply about money and "instant gratification".

But The Children's Society's policy director, Enver Solomon, said: "This research shows that Theresa May is out of step with the majority of children and adults in this country when she said on Wednesday the riots were about instant gratification. Most people believe that the riots were caused by a whole range of factors - and poverty and material disadvantage are at the heart of it.

"Our findings show that there is agreement between adults and children that the Government should be providing more support to young people. This sends a clear message to central and local government that the public would like to see more positive activities on offer to children rather than a reduction in out-of-school youth provision."

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