Evening Standard Comment: The London riots ten years on – a wakeup call for the capital

·2-min read
Fire fighters attempt to put out a blaze in a building in Tottenham, north London as trouble flare (PA)
Fire fighters attempt to put out a blaze in a building in Tottenham, north London as trouble flare (PA)

Ten years ago this week, London witnessed some of the most serious violence and civil unrest in decades.

Rioters attacked police, looted shops and set fire to property in a tinderbox of lawlessness that led to the death of five people, injured 200 and saw more than 2,500 businesses attacked.

The London riots, sparked by the death of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, made news around the world and shone a light on the complex and intertwining issues facing our city.

A deeply worrying report today finds that the social and economic conditions affecting communities identified at the time are worse now than they were in 2011.

Indeed, many of the factors behind the riots — deprivation, “forgotten families”, lack of opportunity and cuts to youth services — are still clear for Londoners to see.

There are a number of conclusions in this Labour Party report, which must serve as a wake-up call both for the Government and City Hall.

The appalling level of teen violence and murders in London this year is a testament to the problems facing our city. Cuts to youth services, strained police-community relations and the pandemic have sharpened some of the issues facing the capital.

It illustrates why the Prime Minister’s levelling-up agenda must not be a levelling down of London. Not simply because it is the engine of the UK economy, but because our city is home to some of the most deprived local authorities in the country.

If a North/South divide exists, it is not necessarily obvious to a young person growing up in the capital and experiencing real hardship. There are no shortcuts or easy answers.

We must get to grips with teen violence, provide support for struggling families and ensure all Londoners have the right to live happy, meaningful lives in peace and security.

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