Tottenham background:

As riots have kicked off in London, the default opinion seems to be "Crush the animals".

It's hard to do or say anything that looks like condoning the explosion of violence, now spreading to Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and beyond, which has claimed lives, brought severe injuries, and caused many millions of pounds in damage.

However, I'm aware that however much we might like to think so, other people are not animals; nor are they mindless. So that tells me that there are thousands of people around this country who are so lost, or so disaffected, or something, that they see rioting and looting as a better option than whatever else they'd be doing. So we should expect the rioting areas to have worse numbers on a range of measures, including but not limited to:

5 A*-C grades at GCSE as a measure of education
Crime rates
And also number of young people (15-24, say) as a percentage of population.

So let's see what we get for Tottenham.

Unemployment rate at 10% amongst 18-24 year olds. This is purely for those on Job Seekers Allowance; those on other benefits such as Incapacity may well be functionally unemployed but aren't counted in these figures. For the area overall at all ages, the unemployment rate including other benefits is 17.0%. Based on a newspaper report in a local paper from July, Tottenham had 6,000 JSA claimants and 121 jobs at that point.

So if you're a resident of Tottenham you have a 17% chance of being unemployed. If you are part of that 17% and actively job hunting, you have [all else being equal] a 2% chance of getting any job you apply for.

Now let's add in the education aspect. According to league tables, 41% of Tottenham pupils get 5 A*-C GCSEs. So a substantial majority are functionally unqualified. Even if they are actively jobseeking, there will be many applicants for every job, so little hope of even a dead-end, part-time job to supplement their benefits, let alone actually live off.

Now let us add in the fact that the local council, under pressure from central government, have made 75% cuts to their youth services budget, including closing most of the youth centres in the area.

Oh, and a final bonus, the crime rates in the local area range from slightly above to nearly double the national average.

Looting is never a productive or useful option. Rioting rarely is; I don't think this is one of those rare occasions. And people have died.
But see it from the perspective of a young person in Tottenham, for a moment: what else do you have to do? And what, exactly, have you got to lose?


  1. From a cost-benefit perspective, it's a sensible option - for the short term. Sadly, though, trashing your own neighbourhood has unpleasant long-term effects.

  2. Indeed, on you and everyone else who lives there, more's the pity.

    The one thing I'm thankful of is that in an operation involving thousands upon thousands of police, the death toll has been so low.