Invest in youth and tackle inequality after the riots, say Greens

By agency reporter
15 Aug 2011

The Green Party says that investing in youth, tackling inequality and reviewing police tactics are among the priorities following the recent disturbances in England.

"We have to avoid a US approach of criminalising entire communities and using paramilitary policing on young [ethnic] minority men," according to Jenny Jones, the Green member of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

She commented: "What we had was copy cat looting, with the destruction of businesses and livelihoods, because young people felt they could get away with it.

"We need an urgent review of police tactics, not a whole new armoury. And instead of investing in water cannon, the government should be thinking of investing in the longer-term measures that we know will make a difference.

"We need to think about younger children who may be vulnerable to getting caught up in gang violence. Above all we need to create a society where youth are not so extremely alienated in the first place," said Ms Jones.

On the day of the parliamentary recall last week, to debate the urban rioting across England, Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party in England, said: "We reject and condemn the horrendous violence, arson and looting that we have seen on the streets of Britain. But we must seek to understand why this happened to prevent it being repeated."

The Brighton Pavilion MP continued: "If we stop at denunciations and crackdowns, nothing will be learned about why sections of our own population feel they can riot, loot and treat their neighbours and communities so appallingly.

"The bigger picture has to be considered. Britain is deeply unequal. Last year, London's richest people were worth 273 times more than its poorest.

"Given the growing evidence, from Scarman onwards, that increasing inequality had a role to play in at least some of the rioting, the government must commit to an impact assessment of any further policies to establish if they will increase inequality."

Dr Lucas concluded: "If individuals are defined as consumers not citizens, there is danger that those who cannot afford to consume feel they have no stake in their community and become more likely to turn against it.

"The Prime Minister has said this is 'Not about poverty but about culture.' But it is about both. It is about inequality and culture and how dangerous it is when you mix growing inequality with a culture which puts consumerism above citizenship."

[Ekk/3]

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