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London's Poverty Profile - what does it tell us about the summer rioters?

Stark news from a report published this week that a baby born in Haringey is twice as likely to die by their 1st birthday as one born in the London boroughs of Bromley, Kingston or Richmond.

This chilling statistic was included in London's Poverty Profile a report on detailed research presented by the Trust For London a respected, social policy and funding organisation.

In another section of the report Haringey is identified as the most divided borough in London. Of its 19 wards, four are in the richest 10% of London and five are in the poorest 10%.

Reading these data alongside the news from government this week that those involved in the summer riots were largely not from organized gangs but were, in fact  young, poorly educated and predominantly from deprived areas sounds a worrying alarm: in its report  the Ministry of Justice conclude:

"It is clear that compared to population averages, those brought before the courts were more likely to be in receipt of free school meals or benefits, were more likely to have had special educational needs and be absent from school, and are more likely to have some form of criminal history. This pattern held across all areas looked at," it says.

Its clear that tackling the causes and consequences of poverty is in everybody's interest. In the face of severe spending cuts what are the structural changes that local public services can make to prevent a recurrence of the summer riots, next year, the year after  ... or in ten years time when this September's new batch of school starters become disillusioned, jobless teenagers with nothing more to look forward to than their next mobile phone update?

Tags: London Poverty Profile, haringey, poverty, riots

Views: 170

Replies to This Discussion

Reflecting on the 'divided borough'.
I was born in 1950 and for most of my life have lived in a time of peace and plenty. I was not conscripted, not even for National Service. I am fairly clever so I passed the 11+ and went to grammar school. The local authority gave me a grant (a sum of money I did not have to pay back) to go to University and paid my tuition fees. I studied a subject for the sake of it, not as preparation for a career, and yet when I settled down to look for a proper job simple possession of a degree was enough to help get me one. I avoided redundancy for long enough to build up some pension rights, which still exist. I bought a house in 1982 which is now worth more than ten times what I paid for it. Whenever I have been ill the NHS has taken care of me. My parents were married until death parted them and I am still married after more than 30 years. I have only ever known stability and well being. I live now in one of the wards in the top 10%.
I suspect that I have only the most superficial understanding of the problems faced by the rioters.
Reflecting on 'tackling the causes and consequences of poverty' I fear that the policy makers either come from or gravitate towards my side of the divide.

My unsuitability

Having understood thet I am quite unlike the typical rioter, who is probably around 20, not well educated, and has been brought up against a background of welfare dependency I am peculiarly unsuited to make proposals to improve his/her lot. Obviously that won't prevent me from doing so. The council is consulting on the things that I would like to see go into the Haringey  local plans. I will use this as my means for making my view publicly available.

Crime and personal safety - Prevention not detection

Known criminals

Under the heading of "Crime and personal safety" I would like to see much more emphasis on prevention, by which I do not mean "don't leave things in your car" and "keep your windows shut, even when it's hot" which are little more then an imposition on the non- criminal, but rather schemes such as the Basildon police "bother a burglar" scheme and the Met police initiative to crack down on uninsured drivers, 80% of whom are apparently criminals in fields apart from motoring. Evidently once the riots gained momentum it took the application of enormous resources to stop them. Now they have stopped it has taken the application of huge resources to detect the perpetrators, to arrest them, to charge them and to impose sanctions. It would have been better had these resources previously been directed to prevention. It would be better in future if these resources could be directed to prevention rather then after the event detection, prosecution and punishment. This is a general principle I would like to see adopted in Crouch End's crime and personal safety policy. The Safer Neighbourhood Team could spend one day a week detecting uninsured cars passing thought the Broadway. It could spend one day a week letting the local villains know that it knows who they are.

Potential Criminals

Obviously these 'prevention' measures suffer from the flaw that they prevent known criminals from committing further crime. Much better would be to prevent potential criminals from ever committing any crimes at all. It could spend one day a week running a football team or a youth club or a remedial reading group, or whatever is deemed to be effective to reduce the likelihood of an individual committing a crime. This would still leave two days a week for old fashioned detection and standing outside shops and by bus stops when the schools turn out.

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