Riot problems still an issue, Mayor Boris Johnson says

Photo: John Hesse Police cars and businesses were burned during the riots last August

England's riots revealed "deep social problems" that still need to be addressed a year on, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said.

The mayor told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme the London 2012 Olympics was "playing a role" in the solution.

"It is sending a clear message about effort and achievement, and what it takes to connect the two," he said.

Riots spread across England after police shot Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, on 4 August last year.

The mayor said £70m had been pumped into inner city areas of London to try to avoid a repeat of the violence and looting, but "lots of different solutions" were needed.

"There are still deep social problems that we've got to address by looking at what happens in the lives of young people, their role models, their ideals, what they want to achieve.

"I do think sport and the Olympics play a role. Sport builds self-esteem, character, confidence and the ability to understand how to lose - all those vital things," he said.

The mayor went on to say there had been a "culture of easy gratification and entitlement" during last year's riots.


From the apocalyptic scenes of last August, to the euphoria of the Olympics. In these heady days of London 2012, the summer of 2011 seems like a bad dream.

In Tottenham High Road, where the riots began - the physical signs are still there. Some of the properties that were burnt to the ground have yet to be completely rebuilt. Long delays in getting compensation and rising insurance premiums have been a source of anger and frustration.

The government, though, says 95% of damage claims have now finally been settled. The post office quickly reopened on new premises - one of many impressive stories of revival.

Those here are determined to move on from what they hope was a freak storm. But in the back of everyone's mind the lingering question: could it ever happen again?

He said the "clear message" that the Olympics was sending "could not come at a better time for a country that is making a difficult psychological adjustment to a new world without easy credit, where life is considerably tougher than it was before the crunch".

Mr Johnson also stressed the importance of getting young people into work, stating there were 67,000 more apprenticeships than a year ago.

Meanwhile Jason Featherstone, director of Surviving Our Streets, a charity which works with young people, told BBC Radio 5 live that he believed things were "still as raw as a year ago" and there could be a repeat of last year's riots.

"I can't see too much progress been made, in the sense of the killing of Mark Duggan, the lack of police information coming forward in regards to what happened in that case.

"I believe we are teetering on more unrest - another incident like this might happen again," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    Closing youth clubs doesn't cause riots. I grew up in Hackney. It's a vibrant area with some of the best green parks in London, when I was 14-16, I didn't really feel the need to burn shops down when there was so many great places to play football...go BMXing....explore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    After reading some of the comments on here, I am amazed at the amount of people excusing these criminals acts. I live in London near where some rioting occured, you see the guys who did it swilling beer and taking drugs driving around in there customized cars with booming music at all hours. Come live in London if you want to see what scum they are and how the ghetto mentality has taken over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    Far to many kids leave education, with no qualifications, no self-belief and absolutely no drive to do anything about it. They then enter a society which simultaneously fosters an idle attitude (my partner would earn more money if she quit her job as a teaching assistant and sought benefits) and places its focus on dreams of money/celebrity lifestyle. We need to improve education and access to it.

  • Comment number 392.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    It's not the responsibility of the state or the school system to instill character & convictions in your child. It's the parent(s) job. But then again, you have MPs fiddling their expenses, journalist hacking phones, corrupt police officers and the worst of all bankers and greed. Why is greed so prevalent in our society today?


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