A leaked report into last summer’s riots has identified 500,000 forgotten families across the country, where a lack of support and opportunities led to a widespread sense of hopelessness among young people.
The Riots Communities and Victims Panel’s report also cited poor parenting, an inability to prevent re-offending, rampant materialism and a lack of confidence in police as the major causes of five days of rioting in Bristol and across England last August.
Masked youths brought violence to Bristol in the days after violence burst on the streets of London.
Dozens of riot police chased a group throwing stones and bottles, and setting fires in the streets of St Pauls, in the middle of the night on August 9 as local residents watched from their windows.
In the weeks following the violence, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke blamed the penal system for allowing “a feral underclass” to reoffend.
Mr Clarke revealed that 75% of over-18s charged with involvement in last month’s unrest had criminal records.
He said the penal system had failed to rehabilitate a group of hardcore offenders he describes as the “criminal classes” and that the civil unrest had laid bare an urgent need for penal reform to stop reoffending among “a feral underclass, cut off from the mainstream in everything but its materialism”.
Responding to the report’s leak to Sky News, Chair of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel Darra Singh, told The Independent: “We are disappointed that Sky News has leaked contents from a near final version of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel’s final report, which is due to be published tomorrow and is still being finalised.
“Our remit was to give a voice to the communities and victims of the August riots. This leak may have impacted on our ability to ensure they receive the widest possible audience.”
The report suggests schools which fail to teach pupils to read and write should be fined, and assist young people in building character and reaching their potential.
A desire for designer brands was identified as another major reason for young people to become involved in the disturbances.
More than 50 people in Bristol were arrested for their part in the riots, while the report found up to 15,000 people, most aged under 24, actively took part in the riots across the country.