This is the LRC’s Statement with regard to the riots in London, which aims to give some perspective to what has happening and where we go next. I think it strikes the right note.
“In March Haringey Council approved cuts of £84 million from a total budget of £273 million. There was a savage 75% cut to the Youth Service budget, including: closing the youth centres; connexions careers advice service for young people reduced by 75%; and the children’s centre service reduced. Haringey has one of the highest numbers of children living in severe poverty, and unemployment in the borough is among the highest in the UK. In London as a whole, youth unemployment is at 23%.
On Thursday 4 August a local man was shot dead by police. The circumstances of the death are still not clear, but – similarly to many previous cases – it appears the version of events fed to the media by the Metropolitan Police is a tissue of lies. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has opened an investigation, but given their histories of cover-ups no one can have faith in either the Metropolitan Police or the IPCC. On Saturday 6 August a peaceful demonstration marched from the Broadwater Farm estate to the local police station to demand answers.
In Haringey, you are three times as likely to be stopped and searched if you are black; and over two-thirds of those stopped are under 25.
Young people are suffering the brunt of the economic crisis, the cuts and, in many parts of the country, police harassment. The student protests in November and December 2010 highlighted the growing frustration and anger among Britain’s youth.
It is in this context of unemployment, public sector cuts, and police violence and harassment that the riots on the 6/7 August must be understood.
Some will used the riots and looting to call for further police powers, but instead the police need to be made more accountable to the communities they serve – and held to account when they kill. The IPCC has clearly proved itself unfit for this purpose.
We also need to step-up our campaigning against the cuts – arguing for job creation and investment instead of damaging cuts that are devastating communities.
Unless the underlying issues of (particularly youth) unemployment, poverty, and police violence are addressed there can be no guarantee that we will not see further riots of a similar nature across the country.”