HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by World of Hope

1. Introduction

World of Hope is an organisation that provides various support services to young aged five to 21 and their families. The aims are to raise youth ambassadors by reducing youth crime, breaking the circle of offences, tackling poverty and reduce unemployment amongst our young people. World of Hope operates in Lewisham, Southwark, Greenwich and Lambeth with aim to cover greater London and beyond.

2. World of Hope Intervention in Dealing with the Riot

World of Hope was present in Woolwich on the day of the riot (8 August 2011). The reason was to discourage young people from participating in the riot. Several phone calls and texts made warning our young people to stay away from the riot in order to abstain from obtaining criminal record. We also intervened through regular visits to the affected areas and businesses in Woolwich, Peckham and Lewisham, attending meetings at the New Scotland Yard to be a voice to our communities place us in a better position recognise what went wrong and why. We also held a local inquiry in Greenwich Borough with the Borough Commander, Young people, Councillor, affected businesses and other people from our community. This was also broadcasted on BBC News at 6.30 and 10.00pm on the day (31 August 2011)

3. Summary

This report will address the issues surrounding the recent riot in London and identify the lesson that may be learnt. This report will also be focusing in specific areas in London such as Lewisham, Woolwich, and Peckham. This is because World of Hope covers these areas with close monitoring, regular visits, and working in partnership with local police in all the Boroughs mentioned above. This also involved feeding back to Community Engagement Board in New Scotland Yard and Local businesses to ensure adequate support to the victims. Florence Emakpose, World of Hope’s founder is a representative on the board.

4. Police Relations with the Communities where Violence took place before the Riots

There was evidence of breaking down in relationship between police and black young people in some areas in London where predominately by Black. This is from the feed back World of Hope gets from young people regards to stop and search. There are some black young people who claimed that many black boys seem to be targeted. On the other hand looking at the population of the young people involved in the youth crime there is an indication that there is a high number of black boys involved in the crime compared to their white counterparts which could send a wrong signal to the police to be more vigilant in ensuring that more of the black boys get search as it could be difficult for Police to get it right all time without presuming that any black young boy on the street are not potential criminal. This could lead to breakdown in the professional relationship between the young people and the police which is already happening. The home office document called equality of human pointed out that “The evidence in “Stop and think” suggests that some forces are exercising their powers not on the basis of intelligence or reasonable suspicion but on stereotypical assumptions, which is not helping to make society safer. Black people are at least six times as likely to be stopped as white people; Asian people, around twice as likely”. There is still a big concern amongst the young people as they experience an increase in youth involvement in crime which made them feel unsafe. However, most young people will argue that they need to carry weapon as a means of protection without realizing that those who carry weapon are likely to use the weapon either to defend or get kill or injured with the same weapon during argument or fight. According to the Crime stopper, it was highlighted that “Young people think knife crime outlook is bleak—25% of people know someone who has been a victim of knife crime” (29 June 2009).

5. There is a need to realise that there is a huge responsibility within the Police to work closely with the voluntary organisations that engage with young people in educating them on the roles and responsibilities of the Police within our communities. It is equally important for young people to be taught on the right attitude towards the Police even when under arrest which could enhance their opportunity of getting issues resolved on the spot with the police without aggravating more issues. Also the Police need to undergo more training that can be tailored to the feed back from the Local communities and young people in order to carry their duties with ease.

6. Similarities with and differences from previous public disorder events

From the feedback World of Hope got from the communities during out street outreach and visitation after the riot in the affected areas as mentioned above. There were unresolved issues with the student protest against increase in tuition fees which it left some places like Lewisham, Westminster and Centre London to face riot which affected Prince Charles and his wife. There is a tension which it must not be ignored by the government as everyone should have right to education. It seems that having police intervention to stop the riot seems not helping Police relationship and the student. It appeared that the numbers of student affected by this decision are huge. Also this issues of increase in tuition fees is ignored by the government which could leave the student with the sense of misinterpretation of police role as it could been seen as police defending the government by blocking them from fighting for their rights. Also police are in a tight position whereby their job is to tackle social disorder regardless of any circumstances to prevent further damage, loss and death.

7. The role of social media in spreading disorder and in the response to it

There was an issue of media interpretation of the law terminology in a wrong way. The social media at a stage has to be corrected with them calling the looter and rioter “protester” which could be seen as been supported by the media. Also the media fails to show the level of damage in some areas such as Woolwich which could leave people with mind set of under estimating the level of the damage. Also there were lacks of accurate of information at the point where Mark Duggan murder was wrongly reported in which the Police has to be asked to amend their media report which was carried out accordingly. This case could also make the community to lose trust in the media and the Police.

8. The role of organised groups in promoting disorder

There are numbers of groups such as BNP and EDL who were seeking to take advantage of the situation without been sensitive to the pain people are going through in the communities. At a stage council has to circulate letters of withdrawer of their participating in any event conducted by these groups.

9. The role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)/National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) public order guidance

It appears that these groups tried their best to correct the damage caused by the few police on Mark Duggan killing. They also create time to consult the community representative from every borough in London in New Scotland Yards for any action taken. This needs be recognised and appreciated. It can also be improved as it seems that to get thing right it requires time and effort.

10. The techniques used by the police to quell the rioting, including:(a) Decisions taken over the deployment of police officers (availability of officers, response times)

This seems to let the police down in the sense that the system of deployment of staff did not work which resulted in leaving some borough with shortage of Police Officers. Even though, the high level of network of the rioters were unexpected but nevertheless it is a good practice not to live a police station uncovered with appropriate numbers of police Officers.

(b) The use of standard techniques: containment, dispersal, specialist public order officers, dogs, horses

From the evidence of the destruction caused during the riot, the use of standard techniques seems appropriate. Even though, some people will argue that they do not expect all. In our opinion it seems that if those techniques were not in use more damage and loss could have occurred as the rioter seems not to care. This left a question to ask if drug was not influence the action of the rioters and looters.

(c) The deployment of non-standard techniques: armoured police cars, baton rounds, water cannon, curfews

Due to the high level of the destruction the deployment of non-standard techniques will not be appropriate as this could reduce the level of damage, number of rioters and looters. It will also send a message of zero tolerance.

11. Variations in the responses of different police forces

This is expected as different people have different ways of responding to situations. This is where the role of Community Engagement comes on board in the New Scotland Yards to correct and insert any necessary response that could trigger the situation.

12. Lessons to be learned from the police response to previous public disorder incidents

The system of deploying staff needs thorough assessment before carried out as this has left some boroughs with shortage of police. Government cut is affecting Policing in the UK. Also more resources are needed for Voluntary organisation to engage more with young people to improve their relationship with their local police. Any information released to the media needs to accurate.

13. Training of officers to deal with riots

The police need adequate training to deal with riot and to be effective in applying the necessary gadgets and to equip them to be able to apply them when require without any presumption especially that riot is becoming an issue for the country. This will also to prevent what happened to Mark Duggan.

14. Whether there were any constraints on the police such as limited resources or powers

Yes—The deployment of standard resources such as armoured police cars, baton rounds, water cannon and curfews should have been their last result.

15. Whether there should be any changes to the legislation regulating normal policing processes during times of major disorder

Yes there should be.

16. Whether the age of many of the rioters constrained the police in their use of anti-riot technique

This could be the case as there is a record of younger age as far as 11years old participating in the riot which left a question for parents to answer as to what they were doing. And how do they monitor the movement of their children as most of the riot took place in the night time. However, if anything goes wrong in the process of intervention of the police the public will react to that as well. It is unfair on police part to be expected to control social disorder and to be restrained due to age of children who do not think of their age and capability before committing crime.

17. The application of the Riot (Damages) Act 1886

To revisit relevant recommendations made in previous Home Affairs Committee reports into policing the G20 protests and Knife crime, and other relevant recommendations, to assess if they have been implemented by successive governments.

There is currently no outstanding effect for the riot damage Act 1886 that is known.

18. Recommendations

More Police are needed.

There is a need for more resources to Voluntary organisations working with youths to engage with youths in educating them on the role of the police and how to conduct themselves when dealing with the police. There should be a place to complain of police rather than taking the law into their own hands.

There is also a need for good police to be awarded openly and show case the good work police do with young people in the media.

There should be transparency of how police deal with complaints.

The role of police is to control public disorder which many people will always get caught and arrested which could lead to the role of police been misinterpreted.

There is a need for Government to bring back discipline to schools and parents.

Government needs to stop cutting and encourage higher education.

Young people want to see their political leaders as positive role model and fair justice to everyone at every level regardless of their title and class.

September 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011