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Most rioters had criminal records

Three quarters of all rioters had a criminal record, with two thirds of these never having been to jail despite having a slew of previous offences, figures show.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the statistics confirmed that "existing criminals were on the rampage" last month.

A quarter of people charged over the violence and looting that swept through English cities last month had committed more than 10 previous offences, with one in 20 having more than 50, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures showed.

But only a third of those who had committed previous offences had ever been sent to jail.

The details were published as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the middle classes had ignored the plight of people living on run-down council estates for years and then paid the price when the inner city "came to call" in last month's violence and looting.

The MoJ analysis showed that the three in four people involved in the riots who had at least one previous offence had committed an average of 15, including nine serious indictable crimes.

Among the youths, two in five boys aged 10-17 who appeared before the courts over the disturbances had at least one previous conviction, compared with just one in 50 of those aged 10-17 in the general population, the figures showed.

Of the 16,598 previous offences committed by those accused of being involved in the riots, a quarter were for theft and handling of stolen goods, one in 10 were for drugs offences and more than one in 20 were for violence against the person.

The figures also showed that most of those appearing before the courts over the disturbances were younger than 21. A fifth were juveniles aged 10-17 while almost one in three was aged 18-20. Only one in 20 was over 40.

Mr Clarke said the courts had delivered "swift and firm justice, which stopped the riots spreading further", but admitted he was "dismayed to see a hardcore of repeat offenders back in the system".


From Belfast Telegraph