Riot Special Question Time

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Riot Special

In a week when riots have spread from Tottenham across London and now other major UK cities, David Dimbleby chairs a panel of politicians and public figures.

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With me in London tonight, the former Deputy Prime Minister, John


Prescott. The Conservative David Davis, former Shadow Home Secretary.


Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick, who stood for Mayor of London after


retiring from the Metropolitan Police. The Archbishop of York,


John Sentamu. The founder of the charity Kids Company, Camila


Batmanghelidjh. And the editor of Thank you. Before I go to the first


question, with no respected David Davis, you may be wondering why


there is no Cabinet minister on this important occasion. We did ask


for a Cabinet minister to join the panel tonight and not one of them


would agree to come. Just in case you are curious. They were all in


the House of Commons today. All of them in the debate. Just so that


you know, because it is a surprise they are not here. Our first


question from William Brewster. a resident of Clapham Junction, I


felt very exposed as I waited for the police to arrive on Monday


night. How are we going to make sure the police are not outflanked


again as we return to normal policing levels. No longer with


16,000 police on the streets of London. David Davis. One of the big


concerns was not just how late they arrived but even when the police


got to the site of the looting and the rioting there was what appeared


to be, anyway, and order to stand back, to allow the violence and the


crime to go on. One of the lessons that David Cameron made clear in


the House today, one of the lessons that has been learned from this is


that the way you police a mass criminal activity, which is what


this has been, is very different from the way you police and


ordinary demonstration. This is completely different. The police


who operate under so-called public- order policing rules, which are


designed not to deal with this. In future, I hope we will see that


when the police get there they will intervene before, all whilst the


crime is taking place and not wait until afterwards, leaving us to


clear up the mess. Do you agree with David Cameron, that the police


chiefs have actually said they made a mistake here? I am sure that is


right. They were operating under a set of rules which were really


designed for demonstrations which might go wrong but are generally


peaceful. This was not that at all. This was a mass Quim of outbreak.


Very different. Brian Paddick, how come this would happen. The first


thing to say is that I think that if the disturbances in Tottenham on


Saturday night were handled properly, if they had sufficient


officers there - and it should not have been a surprise because when I


was Police commander in Brixton we had somebody shot by the police, a


peaceful demonstration turned into a riot - there was no excuse for


not having sufficient officers on duty in Tottenham on Saturday night.


If we had had that, and if the officers had acted, rather than


standing back - we saw the pictures on the television of officers


standing back and allowing people to go looting - then I do not think


we would have a copycat violence in Clapham Junction or anywhere else.


As far as the specific question, these crowds were organising


themselves using social network, using Twitter, Facebook, BlackBerry


Messenger. Why weren't the police on Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry


Messenger, getting one step ahead of the crowds? You are very


critical of your former colleagues. Where do you think it has gone


wrong with the Met? They have lost a lot of experience at the top of


the organisation, in terms of experience of dealing with public


order situations. This is the first thing. I was talking to officers


about this this afternoon, and they are very concerned, after the G20


and criticism of the police in those demonstrations, that if they


do police robustly, which I think is what the majority of the public


want, they fear they will not be supported by their bosses, should


there be a complaint. Therefore, not only are the senior police


officers telling police officers to watch, we will get them afterwards


with closed circuit television, sending the wrong signals to the


public and the rioters, but officers are afraid of acting


robustly because they think there will be complaints and they will


not be supported by their bosses. number of people wanting to come in.


I dispute that, actually, because there was a news bulletin on Monday


night. My friend's flat in Clapham was burnt out completely. If there


were four officers at the scene watching with him while people help


themselves to shops around, stood there doing nothing. Surely they


would be able to employ an amount of reasonable force in order to


prevent the destruction that continued for two hours before they


intervened. A thing we agree with each other. On the point that was


made about using reasonable force, I think the public, the media and


the politicians, we all send mixed messages to the police. In April


2009 we had the G20 protests and police were accused of being heavy-


handed and there is now an opera -- an officer on a manslaughter charge.


To pick up on the point that Brian Paddick made, if Sunday night had


been policed properly, we would be sitting here saying the police were


heavy-handed and did not act proportionally. They cannot win


either way. Do you agree? I think there are difficulties but let's


recognise there have been 29 civil disturbances since 19 some T5. This


is of a different magnitude altogether. -- since 1975. The


scale of it, the use of social Messaging, all of that as played a


part in making this different. What I find it difficult to understand


is why the police, that have these powers, did not exercise them in


the way they could have done. 1, numbers, no doubt about it. 16,000


showed that people stayed off the street. You cannot sustain that, so


the Public Order Act would allow you to designate special powers to


deal with them. I believe politicians, whatever they do to


get all the back, must recognise, designate a special area, which


requires bigger than the police to talk together about that, put a


proper police numbers in to deal with it. Thirdly, let's deal with


these people who covered their faces with scarves in order to


commit criminal acts. Make sure that if they are involved in that


designated place, they are acting in a criminal way and they must


face the consequences for that. That is obviously an issue. But I


think that when we talk about the police, I think it is important to


remember that the police are actually part of our society and


individuals with families themselves who also have - it's the


job. It could be a vocation, but it is a job and it is important to


remember that they do not get backing. This gentleman's point


about mixed messages. No support, very little support, mixed support


when things go wrong. If they were heavy-handed, they would have been


filmed and the rest of it. And then they are on a manslaughter charge


and they do not get the backing from senior officers, all from the


public that they deserve. Most of the time. Brian Paddick's point was


that these were orders to behave as they did, not an individual


policeman deciding how to react. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of


Constabulary, in his review of public order policing, said exactly


what this gentleman said, which was that there is no guidance to


officers as to what reasonable forces, no consistency across the


country about reasonable force, and officers need that protection.


feel that this has been an evolution of responses to


demonstrations in the past. You started to see it towards the end


of the student riots. Instead of clustering in one area, the


students went into small gangs, people wanting to cause


disturbances went into small gangs, because they knew the police would


kettle them, for instance. Second, I do not feel additional violence


from the police would solve the problem, because that is pretty


much what caused it in the first place, isn't it? What do you call


additional violence? I am talking about people calling for people to


be shot, using rubber bullets, for instance. The mistake that the


police made was to stand and observed on Monday night because


that is what they have always done. But none of us ever expected these


riots happening in diverse places in London. Tottenham, arguably, was


predictable because there were bad moves their head. But nobody would


have thought Croydon, Woolwich. I think Brian is being a bit mean on


his former colleagues. They do monitor Twitter and BlackBerry. But


do you know how many people in London use them? There is no way


the police can sit and work out. If somebody says, I predict a riot,


they may be talking about a pop song. You cannot do that, unless


you set up a fascist state. We could be sitting here saying, the


police were brittle and look at all of the people they have beaten up.


I think it is amazing that there have been no instances of police


brutality. I would rather live in a city that erred on that side,


rather than going in with shields and batons. This issue of social


networking is extremely important. My children in infield picked up


that there was going to be a riot in Enfield at 1pm. That is when


they picked up a message. It happened at 4pm. They gave me the


time. That is three hours. Why weren't the police there? The man


in the red tie. If we think that the police were not heavy-handed


enough, what does the panel think they should be doing differently,


and what other techniques should they be using on the streets of


London? John Sentamu. I think the first responsibility of any


government is to keep the peace, above everything else. So we have


to ask the question, is the Government keeping the peace


through the police? Because don't just simply blame the police.


Because if the police can't actually do it, vigilante groups


grow up. Nature always fills a power vacuum. Are you in favour of


vigilante groups? No. Do you disapprove of people standing in


front of their temple, armed in case it was attacked? Be careful if


you want to go that way. If you have a liberal democracy, where


people are accountable through Parliament and the police are


accountable as well, it will be a matter of time before people begin


to say, and I heard on one particular social network where


people were saying, I think we had better go and get it done because


we need to protect ourselves. Please, let us not go down that


road. -- go and get a gun. But if you know there is a mob coming up


the road, are you right or wrong to get together with colleagues and


stand outside and say, if you come, I will hit you. I would say to the


gross surfacing that difficulty, where are the police? Where are the


police. They have a responsibility to keep the peace. And the


Government have a responsibility. Therefore, you have to ask yourself,


do we have sufficient numbers of police? Do we really want to go


down a road which says, get in and use as much force? If there is a


lot of violence already and we respond with more violence, you


create a darkness on a night when If we are talking about more force


being used, what force is that? If people are waiting for the


criminals to be identified on closed circuit television, then


there have to go in and arrest the looters in the act of committing it.


That sends the signal that the police are doing something direct,


and it sends the signal to the rioters that they cannot get away


with it. Camella, you live in Peckham. I work in Peckham. Where


do you live? In West Hampstead, if you must know. Where there were no


riots. What do you think about the issue of how the police reacted?


think the police have an incredibly difficult job, in very challenging


areas. Potentially if they had got in very heavy handed in some of


those neighbourhoods, it could potentially have led to use of


firearms by people in those areas. What we have got to understand is,


as you rightly say, the police are human beings. They were also taken


by shock. They had to ascertain how to ascertain the situation.


Potentially, I think this situation may have calmed down. Unfortunately


because David Cameron was suggesting that rubber bullets and


water cannons would be used, and even though I regret the fact that


warlike behaviour is responded to with warlike language, I think the


police feel they needed back up. you thought the first reaction of


the police on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, was the right reaction, to


stand back and watch rather than making arrests? I think we can


never make judgments sitting behind the desk. There were lots of people


in very heated situations on those streets, both victims, perpetrators


and the police. I think we have to be very cautious about blaming


people in these conditions. Let's hear more from the audience.


disagree. I expect my police to stop people in the act of a crime.


And what was your reaction to the way that they responded? Blind


panic. I could not believe the pictures that I saw on Saturday


night of non- intervention and CCTV policing going on. That is not the


right way to deal with a mob like that. Brian has touched on the


point, but this is very important to understand. People have compared


this to the G20. That was broadly speaking a peaceful demonstration.


The man That died was not committing an act of violence or a


crime. It is very dangerous to use the same rules for that as you use


for this. And what we need to do is to give our police the discretion


on the ground to act when a crime is being committed, and to act


appropriately. If that means force, then that means force. The real


problem, as you know, the police claim the right to have the powers


to control, operation rights. Governments of the poster not


interfere. In this situation, a remarkable situation, one which has


to be dealt with in a different way, COBRA was pulled together, and then


all the arguments about water cannon came up, because of the


political discussion between Government and the police. We need


to know exactly what should happen in these exceptional circumstances,


how the police should act. If you leave it to the Chief Constable of


the moment, or even a commissioner, you get different solutions at


different times, which causes confusion and encourages people to


do the looting because the police don't know how to act in that


situation. Are you saying that the commissioner or the deputy


commissioner of the Net police was not in a position legally to deploy


the police as he wanted on Saturday and Monday, that he had to wait for


the Prime Minister? They have the powers under the Public Order Act,


but to use them they are required to discuss the Government. They did


not discuss any of that and Government was not there any way.


So they called COBRA. COBRA was only called when the Prime Minister


and Home Secretary came back from their holidays. The place where


this is discussed is broadly among senior police officers and they


made the mistake, bluntly. They applied rules for a demonstration


to a circumstance which was about crime. That is why it was discussed.


What they have all now recognised, it has come up in the house today,


they got that wrong and they need different rules of engagement for


their police officers on the ground. Until the Prime Minister came back


from holiday, the police could not have acted. Do you agree with John?


The idea that the police commissioner should call a room


full of politicians and ask them what to do, that would make the


situation worse. That is called COBRA and it happens constantly.


That fills me with dread, asking you what to do now. Sorry! Let's


assume it is your mate David Cameron. They can have the


discussion, politicians and Government. Where they do not have


it, they have the mess that we have had over the last few days.


police got it right in the end. You put more police on the streets.


police had sufficient powers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. They


have the authority of to use baton rounds and Robert -- rubber bullets


if they wanted to. When it came to Manchester, the police had learned


what went wrong, so they intervene straight away. Or it was a


different police commander. The man over there? I think the problem was


that they did not have any rubber bullets. They have four policeman


in Clapham Junction and that was it. If you of four policeman with 250


rioters, you cannot do anything about that. On your own, to hundred


and 50 rioters. In your view why were there only four? God only


knows. There were riots in South London anyway, but... The woman in


red? I put it to you that the decision was taken deliberately to


have lax policing in order to after the events that happened push more


rules for were it to stop protests, to stop the working class having a


voice, and to stop... -- forward. Initial point. I drove round many


areas of South London where I live and there were no police. I cannot


believe that in five different large areas there were no police.


Eyesore crimes being committed and I cannot believe there were none.


It was deliberate. -- five saw crimes. Do you think it was


inevitable that the police would be limited in their ability to handle


the situation effectively considering a mistrust of the


police that pervades through so many of the communities affected by


the violence? I think that there are challenges in relationships


between the police and these communities. Funnily enough, I


don't think they stem necessarily from the police. I think that the


police end up with the bulk of our social troubles and they become an


agency that in effect has to suppress people's rage and protest


and that is what we are doing to our police. We are asking them to


do everything without really giving them the equipment to do it


sensibly. What is very interesting for me throughout this is that


actually the areas that did not get raided, like Oxford Street, like


Knightsbridge, it is well worth thinking what happened that those


areas did not really get attacked, and... Why do you think they did


not? I think the police caught on to what was happening and prevented


attacks on those areas by really pulling the crowd in. There is some


discussion among children at street level that suggests that the really


wealthy areas were well protected and the areas that we economically


more vulnerable were less protected. I will take one more point. Given


the speed with which all of the gangs seemed to be organised,


because of the use of social media, surely the police had an impossible


task? There cannot organise themselves quickly enough to follow


the gangs. What do you say to communities that did on themselves,


prevent trouble, when there is no adequate police response? I would


like to come back on this actually. The kids at street level did say


that the gangs that would normally be fighting each other United in


these circumstances to fight what they perceived to be the wrongs of


Government and the police. Does that make it better? I am just


stating what happened. I am not saying it is a good thing. This is


exactly the kind of liberal rubbish that has put this country in a


state we are in today. And to Lord Prescott, with all due


respect, the Labour Government over the last 13 years created this


culture of impunity that has led to the senseless act that we have seen


on the streets of our country this week. How dare you sit there and


defend your record? Because unemployment reduced by 2 million.


You always quote that. You always have facts and figures but people


of the country know the truth. Interesting that riots happened


under the Conservatives. They happened under a Conservative


Government. Labour are being paid off to be quiet. Who are being paid


off? Since they have come to power, there have been more riot because


cuts are being made, welfare payments are not as generous. And


people... People what? I think Labour tried to create this state


for the voters. We need to move through these topics because there


are several to raise. Just before we do, this programme is also being


broadcast on Radio 5 Live and on BBC local radio in London, the West


Midlands and Manchester, and we welcome all of those listeners. The


debate will carry on after this programme is over in all of those


places. In the meantime, you can join the discussion on Twitter. You


can send us text messages. And we will tell you what other people are


saying. John Prescott has his own tweeting going on here. You can


also press the red button to see what other people are saying.


you know that you are called dimple pot? I do! We are having a serious


discussion but I do know that is my name. I know there is a dimple


dance and I know that I can do it, too! This is neither the time nor


the place. The question from Emily, please. What do you think about the


petition demanding that those convicted in the riots lose their


benefits? This petition has been set up by the Government, whereby


you can petition Government and get hurt if over 100,000 people signed


it. This petition has now reached that. It is suggesting that people


convicted in the riot lose any welfare benefits that they receive.


Are you in favour of that? I know the Government is looking seriously


at this. At the moment, if you go to prison, you do not get your


benefits but that is because the Government is looking after you in


prison. OK, not very good food but to get the idea. If you get a non-


custodial sentence, you still get benefit. They are thinking about


putting them. Benefits could be used as part of the penal system


here. That might be a good or bad idea but I think now was not the


right time to make the decisions, right in the heat of it. We are


getting all kinds of suggestions and the worst possible thing would


be to come out with a Tony Blair style of the five things to do. We


should have the discussion, but when but tempers have calmed down.


OK, 100,000 signatures. Anyone in I think it is completely right. If


you have broken the law in the way that these people have done and


destroyed their community, why should they be receiving tax money


to go about their lives in the way they want to? It is disgusting.


the second row. Do you not think if you take away benefits and put


these people in prison you will make it even harder for them to


contribute to society when they come out? I am just asking the


question. They should have thought about that. Isn't it going to


create a vicious cycle? No, they should take responsibility for


their actions. I am asking if it will alienate them further from


society. They should have thought about it. What do you think? They


should take away their benefits and confiscate their private property


as well, in order to pay for the damage that has been caused and


compensate the victims, which include My cousin whose flat was


burnt down in Clapham on Monday night. Why should the taxpayer pay


out even more for these riots? David Davis, his petition is there


and there was talk in the House of Commons about removing people from


social housing, council housing, if they offended. Do either of those


ideas seem practical to you? I have slightly more sympathy for the


social housing aspect because that is a privilege. You have a 17-year-


old who was arrested... With a -- with respect, let me finish because


this is a difficult area. Fraser Nelson was right that decisions


made on this in the heat of the moment normally generate bad law


and we live to regret it years later. For example, if you take


away benefits and housing, you end up with a social case not just of


the individual but maybe their children. You cannot make sweeping


judgments. These judgments should be made by people who have all the


facts at hand, normally the court. That is where I like to see


judgments made on people's misbehaviour, not in Parliament and


not, with the best will in the world, on your programme, David.


And what about the e-petition, organised by Downing Street, with a


Cabinet that if they reach 100,000 they will go before Government.


That can be debated and that is fine. Many things will be debated


which will be uncomfortable for Parliament in coming years, which


people want to debate. At the end of that, hopefully parliament will


deliver laws which will be interpreted by the courts. We will


not have one law for a crime committed on this circumstance and


another law for exactly the same crime committed a year later


perhaps not in the glare of the public eye. John Prescott, what do


you think of this sort of punishment, the gentleman was


saying, for those found guilty? think that is happening on the


social network now. I got 30,000 against the bankers bonus. They are


deciding to participate in the debate. If you get 100,000 for a


petition, I am not against Parliament debating it. Why


shouldn't they? But I think what might happen is that the facts


might come out about the circumstances of what you were


dealing with. We found with hanging and abortion, there was lots of


emotion and feeling but when Parliament had to make a decision


against a background of those problems it did not arrive at the


same conclusion. I am happy to see that happen. But I think we have


only been told today that something like 50% of those before the courts


in London are under 18. Do you mean the 18-year-old, or do the whole


family get thrown out and become homeless? Do you change the law to


deal with homelessness? It is not just a simple solution to a problem.


Parliament has to make those kinds of decisions. I want to comment on


David Davis when he said about council accommodation being a


privilege. Have you lived on a council estate? I was brought up on


one. Believe me, it is no privilege. A lot of these people don't have


nothing. If you take away their accommodation, what happens then?


That is why I said it is a decision for the court with full information.


How many family are there, how many dependants, what was the


circumstance and the nature of the crime, all of the crimes committed?


Those are decisions that have to be taken properly, not in this way.


you evict those people, what happens to the family who are


innocent? I agree, which is why I say it is a decision forecourt.


First of all, the most informed people to make these decisions as


to what the appropriate punishment should be are the courts. They get


social reports and so forth. If the court decides somebody on benefits


should be fined, they get time to pay, and it effectively takes away


their benefits, as some people are suggesting. The other thing that


already exists with some social landlords are things called


acceptable behaviour contracts, where when they take over social


housing families, particularly those who have children with a


record of misbehaving, signed something to say they will keep


their children under control and behave themselves. That is a


condition of tenancy. I see no objection to that. But to take away


somebody's home, where it has not been agreed in the first place,


just to blanket takeaway benefits because a crime is committed, I


think that is going too far and it is too simplistic. In response to


Lord Prescott saying that 50% of those convicted are under 18, why


can't we offer them vocational apprenticeships to rebuild the


communities that are really damaged that they have destroyed


themselves? Instead of giving them a sentence, give them community


service where they can go and learn how they can actually help in the


future and give them a job? That is one of the things we have to


consider in dealing with the kind of problems in society. Give them a


chance and an opportunity. That is what many of them are calling for.


They are acting this way because they don't think they have any


opportunities. The man on the far right over there. If these people


on benefits, committing these acts, which we don't know, if you take


away what meagre sums they are run, they will have no money and will be


more likely to steal more because they will not have any money to


live on. Let me move on to the people who were engaged in the mobs


that were rioting, or whatever you like to call it, with a specific


riot, or looting. Matt Sheffield has a question. How can we engage


with rioters when they show no respect for society and appear to


lack the intelligence and understanding to be a part of it?


John Sentamu. Sadly, we have created an individualistic society


with a weakened family and community structures, where the


interests of me, myself have become prominent. From my point of view,


in many ways we have made a gob of self and self interest. The


difficulty is that our education system, as we have got it, what do


you do when all that you have been doing his driving towards higher


and higher academic achievement? Some of these people, quite frankly,


the system has not delivered for them. You have been requiring them


to do the same thing. I have a friend of mine who says, if you


want to make sure that your pig grows fast and quickly and you want


to sell it, the best ways to feed it and not to constantly way it. We


have had these attainment targets every time and some of our people


just cannot make it. It is time to recognise that within society some


people are going to be better off on apprenticeships, the kind of


thing you are suggesting, better off in other areas. The education


system, friends, needs to be looked at very carefully. And remember,


quite a number of these have been excluded from schools. I am not


making an excuse for anybody who committed a criminal act. The other


thing is that if you go into a house and you find that water is


leaking down the stairs, it is no good getting a mob to mop up the


water. It is better to find where the taxes, and to turn it off. --


where the tap is. Isn't it fair to say, answering the question there


and what the panellists are saying with regards to respect, over the


last few years we have seen a number of major court cases, MPs'


expenses and the phone tapping, with regard to the rich and


powerful who are somewhat immune from being prosecuted in any way,


shape off-form? These people have nobody to look up to. They are


supposed to look up to politicians and police, and all they do is to


see them as the enemy, the people that have, when they are the have-


nots. They feel as though they have been left out. Fraser Nelson, do


you agree? I am not sure how many of us look up to politicians,


lovelies -- lovely though some of them are. But you are right about


the absence of role models. We are talking about people who have been


given, to a large extent, a bad education, short changed by the


schools. We have this ongoing scandal of sink schools in the


country, particularly in the poor parts of London, where they churn


out people who can barely read and write at the age of 16. How are


they expected to get a job and provide for themselves like that?


Then they need to find a job and an employer. And right now, a lot of


them are better off on benefits than they would be working. You get


taxed on your work. We paved a road for them which leads to a welfare


ghetto. Are you saying we have created the circumstances for


looting mobs to go round the cities of London, the Midlands and so


forth by the way that society has been constructed? Absolutely not.


There are lots of very poor people in this country and hardly any of


them would even think about that kind of behaviour. It is an insult


to those who are struggling to put food on the table, struggling to


find a job, that poverty leads in its grip -- inextricably to mooting.


So what are you saying? The welfare state was set up to cure what


Beveridge called the giant evil of idleness. What the welfare state is


now doing is unintentionally creating joblessness, creating the


very evil that it was designed to eradicate. John Sentamu -- John


Prescott is screwing up his face because his record in Government


was not good when it came to dealing with this. We owe it to the


poorest to give them a decent education system and the ability to


find a job. We are churning them out of schools at the age of 16...


How dare you blame the state education for the system when you


and you're not come from a private education system. You have no idea


where I came from. 7% enjoyed private education, becoming bankers,


politicians, dominating most of the decision-making. And don't say that


has been free from corruption. The bankers have created part of the


problem we have got today and you cannot put that down to state


education. Do you think some schools are a problem? Yes, we


tried to do with them. What success did you make? We built a new


schools. You and your lot knocked them down and gave us deplorable


conditions. Look at your moral righteousness. Bankers did not come


from state education and they have given us the biggest problem we


have in our society and it is the poor people that are having to


carry it, not you lot. What is your answer to the question, how can you


engage with rioters when they show no respect for society and lack the


understanding and intelligence required to be part of it? You have


to separate them into those who are obviously criminal and older. You


have to do with them fiercely. No doubt about it. But with the


younger people, we have to hope we can rehabilitate those people, give


them hope and opportunity. That is the challenge. Nobody knows the


exact formula but we had better start thinking of it or else we


will be saying to a lot of these young people, you have no role in


this society, and they will continue to be antagonistic to it


through the rest of their lives. We cannot want that. We will get more


of this. I think it is very important to separate the moment in


which people engage in a riot and are not thinking from their normal


level of intelligence and their capacity to think. I think it would


be wrong to suggest that all of the rioters were somehow lacking in


intelligence and not part of society. That is the first thing.


The second thing to understand is that, whether we like it or not,


and I appreciate that there are a lot of heated feelings around the


despair that this situation has caused, but whether we like it or


not, there are large numbers of exceptionally disenfranchised and


disengaged individuals living in the ghettos of Britain. They have


not had a voice. The whole dynamic of the interactions politically has


been dominated by people who have a voice and a media who can express


things the way they want to. These people have not had a chance to say


it. It does not justify them rioting, but they have not had a


chance to say many things and we must not dismiss them. This is an


opportunity to listen to them as well. This is all very interesting,


but the vast majority of the people who went out mooting over the last


few days were just going out there to get things for free because they


thought they could get away with it. -- looting. Yes. We had a teaching


assistant brought up before the courts. We had a student who


admitted they were stealing to pay for a trip to Africa during their


gap year. Yes, there are these problems, but let's separate that


from this mindless violence we have had over the last few days. I think


it is very interesting how this has got packaged, because you have


these people paraded in front of all of us to suggest that there is


this brand called "the criminal" and there is nothing else to this.


That would be missing an opportunity to understand some


On this occasion I disagree with you. Brian was that the riots in


1985, and there was a political background to them. This was


clearly a criminal exercise at every level. There were gang


members... I will come back to that in a second. Let me finish. I will


come back to the precipitation. It starts off, I am afraid, with a


large number of gangs in London, 200 gangs in London, I think, and


many of them in Brixton, Hackney. And that is where the organisation


came from. I don't come from public education or a private estate, as


you well know. I will tell you a story that Alan Simpson told me, a


left-wing member of the Labour Party, talking about problems in


Nottingham. He said there were estates in his constituency when


young people had �30 per day paying for drugs and the man to look up to


was the drug dealer because he had a big car and he lived well. Before


you create circumstances like that, it will be no surprise that we get


the problems we have had in London and the Midlands and the North and


the last week. Why does Sweden not have this problem, and Norway?


Because it is a more egalitarian society. Thank you. I want to bring


in a man that commented on David Davis. We have failed to recognise


that everyone is quick to hammer into them, and we are not looking


at why things started and why it escalated. You make that point


about state schools. As a council estate boy that went to a good


state school, you reach the point when you have to go into the public


school sector to progress your career. We need to look at why that


is. I had to do that. You cannot become a politician, you cannot go


on into those careers. We need to look at young kids, and provide


real characters that they can look up to because they are not people


like me in the Cabinet. There are not people like me that our MPs and


we need to look at why that is and address it. You are saying why did


it start now? I grew up in a council estate. I am well-educated.


I have got a great job. I bet you any amount of money that I have


been stopped and searched more times than David Davis, more times


than that editor. There is a real distrust within that level of


society that you just don't trust the police. You need to address


that to stop the riots. I want to hear from more members of the


audience that have had their hands up for a long time. Going back to


what the panel said about education, I work in a secondary school in


East London and I teach citizenship. I think we can all agree that the


rioters that we have seen over the past few days all lack basic


citizenship values. Why has this subject like citizenship been


planned to be removed? It is the only subject that teaches young


people about their rights and their responsibilities. Why is that?


you get a good ear from your pupils if you talk about citizenship?


majority of the young people IT to articulate with views and they care


about their future and they want to go into politics and careers. And


to judge all the young people by the behaviour of a few is not fair.


Young people can be engaged but blue -- we will not engage them


without the necessary subject. you in the 4th row? I think it is


all good that politicians are condemning everything that has been


going on, but what in reality is deterring these people from going


back to attacking our streets? I read in newspapers today that one


boy got sentenced to two days in prison. What in reality is stopping


them going out and doing all that they have done all over again?


would you like to see happen, yourself? I think this talk about


scrapping benefits, we know that it is not realistic. I don't know


either what will stop them. David Davis, what do you think?


think we start by the court being sensible about proper penalties. If


the courts do not do that, it will be a terrible signal for the rest


of society. The politicians set the sentences. The set a maximum and


the men are men and then the courts choose it. -- they set the maximum


and the minimum. They are passing these on to the Crown Court to give


a heavier sentence. That is why we have to deal with this... We will


come to parenting in a moment. is going to deter people from


rioting is the certainty that they will get caught. The reason why it


went viral was because people thought from what they saw on the


television that they could get away with it. It is not about how tough


the sentence is, that should be appropriate to the crime and the


circumstances of the individual. What will deter people is if the


police are there, arresting people at the time. And if people really


believe. Why was Oxford Street not attack? Because it is covered, end


to end, with very good CCTV. So people thought better than to go


there because they would be caught. 10 minutes away from my house there


is just as much CCTV. It is the fact that the police were told to


stand back. Oxford Street is a safe haven, the centre of the city. We


saw what happened with the students, when Kettering was going on. It


makes sense for them to go to their own homes and neighbourhoods


because they do not respect them. When the student protests on there


were attacks on shops on Oxford Circus. That does not hold water.


This lady made a good point about parenting, so let come back to it.


But you are against CCTV, have you changed your mind? No. Intrusive,


expensive and not effective. That is exactly right. Guess where those


words came from, from the man that ran CCTV in the Met Police because


there was CCTV all the way up and down Archway Road, a lot of crime,


and they were never used. Nobody has never said don't have CCTV. I


wrote the policy. Make sure it is properly controlled. They work


effectively. Exactly. Let's move on it to parents. And to tie into it,


this question, saying that many of the rioters will be parents in the


next few years and what does the panel think the next generation


will be like in the light of that? With parental rights, a lot of it


has been removed. Parents cannot discipline their own children, they


cannot correct them, they cannot ask them to stay in. They just go


out and do what they like. Why cannot they ask them to stay in?


Because children are parents these days. That is nonsense. Children


just don't listen. We have cinemas everywhere, on the buses, so unruly.


They have been given so much liberty. So many things go in, and


so children perceive they have rights. The teachers are afraid,


parents are afraid. Who will give them the right values for Society


for them to be good citizens? Where does it come from? What do you


think? We need to restore that because the children of today of


the adults of tomorrow. We saw that in the student rampages well. 20


years ago they were all children. What will happen in this


generation? I think for me, remembering parenting when things


go wrong only is not helpful. We should remember it all of the time.


Actually we have got social pressures. Controlling small


children is not that easy. I have been a parent and a foster parent


and all I will say is this. When children are growing up, when they


become teenagers, like me they seek independence from their parents. I


wanted a peer group to which I could belong. Fortunately for me


there were proper structures. At the moment, there are no proper


structures, no proper care and concerns, so what tends to happen,


if they are not safe, then unsafe structures will emerge. And gangs


developed to create that structure which is not safe. So I set up a


Youth Trust. I can tell you the story of a little man. A teenager


that move to Manchester, after his friend Damilola Taylor was shot. He


got involved in gun crime in Manchester. He was met by one of


our projects, and he is now studying for a degree in youth and


community work. Why? A structure was provided that took him away


from that difficulty. Please don't undermine the social pressure of


our society now. I just want to follow up on that and ask about the


cuts to after-school programmes, sports programmes, at and youth


clubs. How is that going to help these people get into something is


good. -- which is good? They need to reform the school system. The


Conservatives are taking city academies, one of Labour's good


ideas, and putting rocket boosters and of that. We have been talking


about guidelines, legislation and education for children. There is a


link between ideas of responsibility and what the state


can and should not do in order to create an environment for people to


take on responsibility and accepted for themselves. An interested in


asking the panel about what they think about the Government appetite


to instigate change, to make things happen. I am not talking about cuts


and increased legislation to stop people doing stuff, I am talking


about empowerment and creating an environment for people to take


responsibility for themselves. empowerment of teachers and parents,


you mean? Absolutely. What do you say to that? I think there is an


appetite for that. As has been said, if a young person thinks they will


be caught and punished, then they will not take part in the crime. If


over the course of their years from year 7 onwards, the parents do not


keep them under control, do not set rules and guidelines, and the same


happens at schools because the teachers are afraid to exercise


those powers, then they find they can break the rules and nothing


happens, then they do it again. Then they come into contact with


the law, they break the rules and nothing happens. By the time they


get to 16, actually, even if they are certain they will get caught,


they tend to commit crimes and that is a real problem. We have got a


moment for a last question, which comes back to what happened over


the last few days. A lot of people have commented on this. Under what


circumstances is vigilante action justified to defend your community


or home? We have talked about the police, we have talked about


parents and schools and the rest of it. John Prescott? There are


vigilantes because there is a breakdown of law and order and we


are not providing law and order. I find I cannot condemn people if


they stand outside their property and say you cannot come into this


church, and they take those actions. Basically, I understand that, but


the failure is all of us that have a responsibility to make sure law


and order is maintained in our streets. People that are vigilantes


do not want to do it. They do it because we are failing to provide


the proper cover on the streets. Under what circumstances do you


think vigilante action is justified? I think we should avoid


it at all costs. No. You saw an incredible amount of disorder at


street level. One set of people start, then another set joins in.


It just escalates and I don't think we should have vigilantes. So what


happens to the vulnerable in society that cannot stand up to the


thugs? What about my 92 year-old mother? She will not turn into a


vigilante. She will not stand up to these people and she has to rely on


the police and we should rely on the police. The question is in what


circumstances is vigilante action justified? In whatever


circumstances, you get people like the English Defence League, roaming


round Lewisham, purporting to be protecting society, but in fact


they are justifying their racist attacks on black people. What do


you think? The man in the yellow. But then you also get people


roaming around looting, purporting to be acting in response to the


death of Mark Duggan. I think there was a very small minority of people


on the Saturday night that were really angry about what happened


with the police shooting. I think what happened subsequently that was


In a week when riots have spread from Tottenham across London and now other major UK cities, and the Prime Minister and Mayor of London have cut short their holidays to deal with the crisis, Question Time returns for a special edition.

David Dimbleby chairs a panel of politicians and public figures as they take questions from the audience on what sparked the rioting, the police response and how to deal with the root causes of the unrest.