2011 riots inquiry recommendations ignored by government, says Lammy

MP for London flashpoint of 2011 riots says little has changed since unrest, with only 11 of 63 panel's proposals implemented

The government has been accused of implementing just a few of the changes demanded by an inquiry it established to stop a repeat of the 2011 riots in England.

Research says just 11 of 63 proposals made by the panel into the riots have been implemented a year after the report, published last March.

The cross-party panel established by David Cameron and Nick Clegg was told to come up with measures to lessen the chances of mass disorder erupting again.

Among the recommendations rejected or not implemented are measures to improve schools, mentoring for convicted youth offenders to help stop them committing further crimes, and fresh action to stop young people going without education, employment or training.

The research comes from David Lammy, the Labour MP whose constituency of Tottenham, north London, was the flashpoint that triggered the riots after police shot and killed a man they suspected of being armed in August 2011. It is based on responses to freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions about the fate of the panel's 63 recommendations. A year on from the report, a majority, 35, have been rejected or are unimplemented. Four are under review, the fate of 13 is unclear, and 11 have been accepted or implemented by the government.

The riots, communities and victims panel was chaired by Darra Singh. The 2011 riots spread to 66 areas, lasting four days, causing deaths and tens of millions of pounds of damage, and leading to soul-searching about the causes. Two key themes were why some deprived areas saw no trouble while others saw extensive damage, and why some people from similar deprived backgrounds looted while others walked away.

The report explained: "In asking what it was that made young people make the right choice in the heat of the moment, the panel heard of the importance of character." Lammy's research says recommendations not implemented or rejected include schools having to publish their policies for character-building.

The Department for Education says it has no plans to implement other measures the riots panel believed would help boost education. These included fining schools where pupils have poor levels of reading and writing, and ordering schools to publish the numbers of pupils they exclude, suspend or transfer to a pupil referral unit for children with problems.

A call by the inquiry panel for a job guarantee for those aged 25 who have spent two years on the work programme has not been rejected.

Lammy said: "The government made a very clear commitment to the riot communities that they would do everything they could to prevent the riots ever taking place again. Eighteen months later and one year after the publication of the government's own riots report, the impetus for reform has completely evaporated.

"The riots occurred for a number of reasons but that is precisely why there needs to be a well-thought out programme of reform. The riots panel report outlined the need to provide greater support for families, tackle youth unemployment, lift school attainment, improve police relations and tackle recidivism amongst young offenders.

"Disappointingly, just a handful of the 63 specific recommendations made in the report are being implemented. We now head into the summer months with none of the fundamentals changed since the riots of August 2011."

Among the 11 recommendations that have been accepted or implemented is greater work to identify potential problem families and measures to help youngsters to cope with the pressures of advertising and materialism.

After the 2011 riots the government resisted calls for a full-scale inquiry, such as that conducted by Lord Scarman after the 1981 Brixton riots. More than 2,000 people were convicted for riot-related offences with more than 1,400 jailed.

The inquiry cost under £200,000 and had no powers. Lammy contrasted this with the Leveson inquiry into the media: "It is impossible not to see the stark contrast between the way this inquiry has been kicked into the long grass and how the Leveson inquiry has been allowed to dominate government business."

The panel's report warned: "Should disturbances happen again, victims and communities will ask our leaders why we failed to respond effectively in 2012."

A spokesperson for the government said it was yet to formally respond to the panel's recommendations, but added: "Government [sic] values the importance of the riots panel's work and set out its immediate response at the time. Already work like the troubled families programme is showing results. It is right that the government's formal response is properly co-ordinated across all the public-sector bodies and communities involved. It will be published in due course.

"Concerted cross-government action delivered a series of decisive measures to help rebuild communities following the riots and public disorder in the summer of 2011. That package provided immediate and ongoing support to open up shops and rebuild buildings which were damaged, make sure people who lost their homes were rehoused, and to help councils get their areas back to normal as quickly as possible. Under these schemes, local councils played a pivotal role in providing support to local firms and local residents."


Vikram Dodd

The GuardianTramp

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