Church report: Austerity created a “hopelessness” to blame for last summer’s riots

Current economic problems have inspired a hopelessness in young people that triggered ‘destructive and antisocial actions’, according to a Church report.

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Current economic problems have inspired a hopelessness in young people that triggered ‘destructive and antisocial actions’, according to a report from the Church of England.

riotsRiots broke out in August last year following the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham. Copycat instances of looting and rioting took place across London and other parts of the country.

The Church has released a report entitled Testing the Bridges, which addresses the role of the church alongside riots, disturbances and public disorder.

The Guardian reports:

A Church of England report into last year’s riots wanted to “sound a clear warning note” about the “social consequences” of austerity measures, a senior cleric said on Sunday , as he presented research highlighting the effect of government cuts on people in areas where violence broke out.

The Rt Rev Peter Price, bishop of Bath and Wells, said he had no intention of being sentimental about the rioters, who, he said, had ruined other people’s lives. But he said such disturbances could also be “a kind of spiritual escape” for people who have little else in their lives.

Price told a General Synod meeting in York:

“It is perfectly possible to empathise with the chancellor of the exchequer and those responsible for policy, recognising the immense pressure they are under from the financial markets and credit rating agencies, and at the same time, sound a clear warning note about the social consequences of austerity measures which hit the most vulnerable hardest and leave the very rich unscathed.

Something is released in the participants which takes them out of themselves as a kind of spiritual escape. The tragedy of our times is that, once again, we have a large population of young people who are desperate to escape from the constrained lives to which they seem to be condemned.


See also:

Responding to the riots: We need more than fuzzy buzz words from the government 1 Apr 2012

UK riots: The “500,000 forgotten families” 27 Mar 2012

Anger with police sparked the riots 4 Dec 2011

New York Times slam Cameron, Liberal Democrats over riots reaction 18 Aug 2011


Left Foot Forward reported at the time of the riots:

The behavior of these people in smashing up their ‘own communities’ may seem irrational to some but to the ‘rioters’ themselves these targets are highly meaningful. These meanings in turn always relate to their sense of themselves as a social group and of the illegitimacy of their relationship to others around them.

It is highly relevant that in the context of these riots people have taken the emerging opportunity to target shops selling high-end electrical goods, clothes and jewellery.

In this age of austerity, such items are becoming increasingly unobtainable to ever-larger sections of the working class and it should not be surprising that some are using the riots as an opportunity to obtain them.

Many people are now recognising the detrimental effects austerity is having on the British people, so why is the government still pushing these measures?


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