HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Atmospherix Change Agency

My Name is Mark Ingram and I run the Atmospherix Change Agency based in Kettering. Our mission is to see communities being transformed through communication, partnership and the empowering of all agencies, community groups and individuals. One of the projects that we are currently operating is to monitor and analyze the unrest that is taking place in our country, the reasons that may be causing it, and how communities across the country can assist the government and our emergency services to assist in looking at the implementation of the responses which are required.

My evidence and main points are as follows:

1.What we witnessed during the riots was the destruction of communities and I am sure we will all agree that this caused no positive development. There are many stories of cleanups taking place across the country; however the story of the clean up that took place in clapham is one which I would like to highlight to you. It was co-coordinated by a helicopter pilot, and someone who had worked for the Red Cross disaster team in Pakistan, Chile and Gaza. He stated that there were similarities to this clean up operation compared to those in other countries, the main one being that it was about communities pulling together. I would like to suggest to you that what we also saw during the riots was the rising up of young people to clear up the destruction, injury, mess and loss of life that had been caused. We must find strategies to build on the positive signs of Community engagement which have been evidenced to us during these incidents.

2.Some of the work that we are currently undertaking is to look at the role of organized groups who portray a peaceful mission, but practical evidence of there behaviors reflect otherwise. As we have monitored and reflected up on the behavior of some of these groups, it would seem clear that a particular protest causes unrest with other groups and this then causes counter protests. Our work suggests that much of the unrest caused, was by a small core of people that are calling others together under the peaceful banner, but that those who are organizing these events often have a common goal to bring violent behavior to our streets causing damage and injury to our communities. Whilst not condoning this behavior in any way, we would like to suggest that many of these young people if offered a positive alternative could become peaceful citizens of our communities, making a peaceful and positive impact on our country.

3.I believe that the police force in this country is full of passionate officers that want to do there job and see peaceful communities. I do not believe this to be an easy job to do at this moment, and would commend these officers who in some cases put there lives in danger to protect citizens of our country. As you look at the police response and how if these incidents occur again in the future government and police responses may be different, we would like to point out that the police carry out the role of upholding justice and peace, this is an extremely difficult objective, and it would seem that social networking made there more difficult, I would like to suggest that the police are only able to carry out a caretaking role, and that the responsibility of finding ways forward lies within our communities. I am sure that lessons are being learnt with this, and I do not profess to be a professional in this field, but the importance of us all coming together to discuss ways of understanding our communities and working together with the Police, emergency services and those from our different communities and cultures could never be more important for us as a country.

Our summary to you is that the following recommendation be made in your report:

That Government set up a community forum made up of senior police officers, government ministers those involved in community groups and those involved in clean up operations during the riots. This could then be replicated across the country on smaller scales. Its objective would be to look at how communities have pulled together and there motivation to do so, looking at how we can engage those experienced leaders from the corporate world who helped to coordinate the clean up, with those who feel that violence is the way to achieve results. The objective would be to look at how we can implement practical strategies to build on this in our communities in the future.

In conclusion, I believe that we live in a country that knows what community means. Many of the areas that were affected by the recent riots were affected by bombings in the war where communities and families pulled together, whilst during the early 1900s local entrepreneurs rose up bringing employment, education and real strong leadership to our communities all over the country. I believe that the answer to the problems that we are facing lies in our communities and that we must find ways of engaging with them. I passionately believe that although our country is in a time of recession and difficulty, we can promote community transformation through working together, even with some of the most difficult and hardest to reach areas of our community. I therefore submit my evidence and recommendation to you.

September 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011