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New riots a matter of time: Writer

A fresh wave of rioting and looting is inevitable with one in five young people unemployed and children's services being cut, a writer has claimed.

Polly Courtney said more unrest is "only a matter of time" unless the Government shifts its priorities to improve conditions for young adults.

She said: "Charities are doing an incredible job right now but, unless there is a significant shift in Government priorities and spending, more riots can only be a matter of time.

"Since August 2011, the situation for many young people has got worse, not better. Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds is still at close to one million. That is 20% of our young people out of work. More than half of councils have been forced to cut their spending on children's services."

Two years ago the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, sparked a tidal wave of rioting, arson and looting that spread across parts of the UK.

Ms Courtney interviewed young people in areas hit by the unrest as research for her novel, Feral Youth.

The former investment banker said the rioters that she spoke to felt they had nothing to lose.

She said: "Each one had an individual story, but the thing that everyone had in common was a sense that they had nothing to lose. They had nothing to lose by getting involved because they couldn't see a path for themselves in the future. I think giving young people opportunities is the key thing that we need to focus on."

The author's views were echoed by Barbara Rayment, director of counselling service Youth Access, who said: "Given the right spark, the conditions exist for further eruptions of violence.

"Benefit cuts, poor access to housing and job opportunities, coupled with ongoing difficulties in police relations and lack of investment in youth services, demonstrate the lack of any empathetic Government policy that addresses young people's concerns."

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