Terrible scenes in England. What started peacefully seems to have descended into pure opportunism from troublemakers.
Did anybody see it coming? Well check this fascinating article from The Guardian, a week ago:
Farewell youth clubs, hello street life – and gang warfare
With budget cuts leading to the loss of facilities that kept many inner-city youths occupied, experts predict a rise in crime
Others worry that a perfect storm of unemployment, the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a squeeze on programmes to help disadvantaged youths could bring more than just a rise in crime figures and result in a “lost generation”.
“Services are not just being taken away from young people, they are being taken from poor young people,” [Professor John Pitts] said.
“At a simple level that could mean an increase in antisocial behaviour and vandalism.”
Not that the budget cuts necessarily led directly to the riots of course, but I bet it didn’t help. Take away services like that from areas with serious social problems, and you can see how there might be consequences.
And it does leave me wondering how much money was saved in cutting services for disaffected youth, and how much more will be spent by the government bringing London and other cities back under control.
People are responsible for their own actions of course. But whether you consider these types of schemes to be improving community ties, bettering people, or merely a distraction from more destructive activities, they would appear to be a better investment than was apparent to those who cut them.
* * *
- Contrary to reports of rioters organising themselves via Twitter, it appears Blackberries are in fact the preferred method. Twitter, however, has proven central to the cleanup and recovery.
- Pictures from The Age and the Boston Globe Big Picture (Number 23 is particularly sobering)
- One brave Hackney woman confronts the rioters