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Poor parenting blamed for UK riots

20:18 Wed Mar 28 2012

Poor parenting and a lack of support for disenfranchised young people played a major role in sparking last year's British riots, an independent panel says.

The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel report, commissioned by the government, also blamed an inability to prevent reoffending, lack of confidence in the police and poor schooling.

"We must give everyone a stake in society," said panel chairman Darra Singh on Wednesday.

"When people don't feel they have a reason to stay out of trouble, the consequences for communities can be devastating.

"The causes of the riots were complex and there is not one thing that will prevent them from happening again."

The report called on the government and local public services to develop a strategy to help "500,000 forgotten families turn their lives around".

Police arrested 4,130 people and charged 2,577 over the riots, an explosion of violence in English cities that left five people dead and raised questions about the state of British society.

Up to 15,000 people are estimated to have taken part, most under 24 with poor academic records, the report said.

An 11-year-old boy was last week handed six months' detention for his part in the disorder, becoming the youngest person to be prosecuted over the unrest.

The report suggested that schools be fined if they failed to teach pupils to read and write.

But Labour MP David Lammy said that criticism of schools was "a bit unfair".

"Of course there are issues in our schools, but it is so easy when things go wrong to point to a big institution and say the schools should do more," he said.

The riots flared in London following the death of Mark Duggan in a police shooting on August 4, and quickly spread to Birmingham and Manchester.

The panel's interim report, published last November, said the initial riots were a reaction to the police's handling of Duggan's death.

Wednesday's report also urged police to be more transparent about their use of stop-and-search powers.

"In our view, by improving the quality of minor encounters, the Met (London police force) can dramatically improve their relationships with communities," said the report.

The panel also blamed consumerism, revealing that 85 per cent of youths surveyed agreed that "advertising puts pressure on young people to own the latest products".