England riots one year on: Culprits jailed for 1,800 years

Riot police on devastated street The riots were scarring for London - mentally and physically

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Prison sentences totalling more than 1,800 years have been handed out to rioters following the disorder which began exactly a year ago.

Riots and looting began in Tottenham, north London, on 7 August 2011 after police shot Mark Duggan.

It swiftly spread becoming the worst public disorder for a generation.

A year on from the unrest, Ministry of Justice figures show that a total of 1,292 offenders have been jailed for their part in the trouble.

The average custodial sentence was 16.8 months - more than four times the average term handed down by magistrates' courts for similar offences.


Reece Davis

Reece Davis, a dancer from Catford, south London, was jailed for looting his local Argos. He told BBC London: "All I say from me to young people who even think about getting involved if it happens again is don't do it. Stay in your house. If you are going to do anything? Peaceful protest. Direct your attention to where it needs to be directed. Not shops and not looting."

It means courts have issued approximately 1,808 years of sentences to rioters.

In an interview with BBC London to mark a year since the riots, the Crown Prosecution Service's chief prosecutor Alison Saunders backed the swift and tough justice meted out to culprits.

She said: "One thing we also learned in the disorder is that if we can get people in court fast and get them sentenced it acts as a deterrent - it made people think twice.

"I do think the criminal justice response was particularly important. People could see there were consequences.

"They could see the criminal justice system responding and that sent a really strong message from society that this was unacceptable."

The riots were the single biggest challenge the Crown Prosecution Service has ever faced.

Ms Saunders said at the height of the caseload, paperwork on rioters was coming in "literally by the sackful".

Courts opened overnight to clear the backlog with prosecutors from across the region travelling to London to help out.

Even Ms Saunders herself had to carry out prosecutions.

She said: "I hadn't been in court for seven years.

"It really was back to the coalface."

Start Quote

Could we have done better? We've been very honest, we could've done”

End Quote Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley Met Police

"The London prosecutors particularly were saying: 'This is going on in our city - we want to volunteer, and we want to get London back on its feet'."

A year on, the CPS is still dealing with approximately 10 riot-related cases a week.

Some 308 defendants still face live proceedings over their alleged roles in the mayhem.

"It is definitely the largest operation the CPS has ever done," Ms Saunders said.

A specialised unit, consisting of 30 staff, including 10 prosecutors, was set up to deal with riot offences.

Ms Saunders said there was no end to the riot-related prosecutions in sight, although the CPS hoped that the majority of the work would be complete by the end of 2012.

However, Ms Saunders admitted some rioters would never be caught. She said: "There is a proportion of offenders who will not be identified - but I have no idea what that proportion is."

Local traders in Tottenham have struggled to get compensation for businesses damaged during the riots

Staff at the CPS have been shocked by some of the individual stories to come out of the trouble.

Ms Saunders points to a mother-and-daughter team of rioters as a particularly egregious example.

The youngest defendant dealt with by the CPS was aged 11 years and six months.

Meanwhile a senior Metropolitan Police officer has admitted his force still has more to do to rebuild community relations after the riots.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told BBC London: "Could we have done better? We've been very honest, we could've done.

"The officers at the time were working their hearts out for their communities.

"Did we do everything we would have hoped to have done? No we didn't."

Assistant Commissioner Rowley went on to say more work was needed to build bridges with the Tottenham community.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Prison won't work because all they do are getting fed and sitting all day. If you want to put them in prison, put them in hard labour camps when they can do something to pay back. They can start to repair all the roads now. @32 Exasperated: Firing squad will be a waste. Why not use them as target practice for archery?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Wish numpty do gooders wouldn't blame poverty for crime. I've lived in poverty for large chunks of my life. I've never committed a crime, never hurt a soul. I've worked hard when I could, and now I'm out of work and studying hard with the Open University to try improve my life chances for the future.

    Stop making excuses for criminals and maybe they'll start to realise it's only THEIR fault!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Students get taxed for the costs incurred from going to Uni...shouldn't released criminals get taxed extra for the costs they incur to society?

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Too lenient, 18000 years would have been better.

    Perhaps now we can start jailing a similar number of bankers as they have cost us all far more than these rioters did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    It's all very good the CPS is being harsh on the rioters, but doesn't anyone else think the police could be allowed to be a bit more assertive? The rioters all thought they were invincible because it didn't seem like the police were able to do anything, so let the police actively stop criminals instead of playing defensive all the time.

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    We have 87000 people sitting about in jail. Why not put them to use with hard labour or clearing all the litter on the countries beaches and woodland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    @22 Grumpy Mungo
    1or 2 bad apples!!!! These people are responsible for crisis we are in now people have seen their pensions decimated, jobs lost, in short these so called “bankers” are getting off scott free and will do the same again if given the chance, and by the way the rioters deserved all they got but lets not compare the two both are criminals but one is easier to target than the other

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    16. Dirty Sanchez
    @ 12
    > Wat a fair and just World we live in.....

    And the uneducated masses rise up again. It's spelt "what". How can you misspell such a staple of the English language?

    Typo's do happen, apologies. BTW it is spelled not spelt. Pot...kettle?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The Crown Prosecution Cheif prosecutor has stated even she had to attend court for the first time in 7 years. So what has she been doing for that 7 years?? How do you prosecute criminals without attending court? Another highly paid position that doesnt provide value for our money !!

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Sam Lowry (29): Perhaps we just found comment 9 a pitiful excuse for the thuggish criminal behaviour. Oddly most British people do not like defending violent morons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    @9 "If you leave a proportion of society to rot in poverty, it is hardly surprising that such disorder breaks out."

    POVERTY?? The rioters were not impoverished. Being unable to buy the latest £140 Nikes doesn't make you impoverished. If rioters were truly suffering through poverty, JD Sports and Comet wouldn't be the first shops looted. You don't know what poverty is, only greed & consumerism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The comment by 9. maxmerit while honest and blunt was disliked by 4 people in a space of minutes - obviously Beeb readers don't have much stomach for the unpalatable truth ... pity as those who forget the lessons of the past are certain repeat them. As for 17. elliehallmark - your comment seems to be totally at odds with historic fact France 1787-99, Russia 1917, USA 1775-83, England 1642-51,

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.


    ' .... why are sentences 4 times longer than similar offences not committed during a riot.'

    What similar offences? Surely the whole point is that these offences WERE committed during a riot. It's not exactly shoplifting a pair of socks from M & S.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Prison does not work..... The politicians have known that since 1774 when the Howard League was formed. We need a much better way of dealing with people rather than incarceration. The weekly cost of keeping someone in custody is possibly higher than keeping politicians in parliament, and we the tax payers get a very poor deal in both areas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Sir Gerald Kaufman charged the taxpayer £1,851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8,865 for a Bang and Olafson television. He also claimed £28,834 for work on his kitchen and bathroom on a flat he owns. Admittedly he didn't need to use violence but where is the balance of fairness in our society? Of course looters and rioters and thieves should be jailed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    2,000 or 1,800 years is not a that stunning a figure unless it applied to individuals getting that length each. The scum involved should all be deported to some remote island where they can rob each other, burn and loot to their hearts content. Therefore leaving the rest of us to enjoy what is left of our lives in peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Sentences should have been longer in most cases.

    Pitiful justice system this country has (as Yoda might say...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Why compare rioters and bankers? Bankers (some of them) may well have acted unethically but anyone can see that rioting is a totally different thing. I will never forget the images on the news- like the girl who had to jump out of a window to escape the fire. Absolute feral behaviour by people who think the world owes them a stash of consumer goods. Outrageous.


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