27/03/2012 14:28 BST | Updated 28/03/2012 02:44 BST

Riots Report Identifies 500,000 'Forgotten Families'

An independent report into last summer's riots a number of factors which led to chaos spreading across England, including suspicion of police, a lack of opportunities for young people and poor parenting.

The report by The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel identified 500,000 "forgotten families" who need help to turn their lives around.

"Families aren't getting the support they need," the authors said.

Darra Singh, chair of the panel, said that communities suffer when "people don't feel they have a reason to stay out of trouble - as we saw last August."

Their analysis comes months after prime minister David Cameron identified 120,000 'problem' families for targeted help. However the authors claimed there was little "overlap" with the rioters, saying: "We support the work of the Troubled Families Programme but the overlap with rioters is limited.

"In a poll of 80 local authorities conducted by the panel, only 5% felt there was a great deal of overlap between the troubled families and rioter families."

The report came to light a day early after being leaked to Sky News and the panel's chairman Darra Singh said it was still being finalised.

"Our remit was to give a voice to the communities and victims of the August riots. This leak has impacted on our ability to ensure they receive the widest possible audience," he said in a statement. 

The report's recommendation that schools should face "financial penalty" if children leave them without being able to read and write faced criticism from the National Union of Teachers.

General Secretary Christine Blower said while teachers took "pastoral responsibility" seriously, teachers were there to teach.


“Challenging and addressing society-wide inequity cannot be the task of schools alone. The problems that stem from poor housing, joblessness and poverty in all its forms cannot be for schools to solve.


“Government needs to do far more to reduce child poverty and youth unemployment, including restoring the EMA to its former levels and getting rid of tuition fees.


“Failure to do any of these things will mean that many young people and adults will remain disillusioned with what life has to offer them and never achieve their full potential,” she said.


Dr Katherine Rake, CEO of the Family and Parenting Institute, said that to blame bad parenting was "simplistic".

"In the immediate aftermath of the riots, an overly simplistic view took hold that bad parenting was predominately to blame and that a known group of 120,000 'most troubled families' were responsible," she said.


"We hope the report recognises the pressures that UK families are under. Parenting does not take place in a vacuum. Stretched family finances, the commercialisation of UK childhood, and on-going work/life balance challenges prevent people from being the kind of parents that they really want to be."


She added: "We may be quick to hold parents responsible for the failings of their children but we also need to acknowledge the critical role played by society and our communities."


Children's Society policy director Enver Solomon said "poverty and disadvantage" were behind the riots: "We know from our work that there is a significant link between a child’s material deprivation and their overall life satisfaction. Clearly, tackling this is crucial to avoid further unrest among children and young people.


“The majority of adults and children believe the government should be doing much more to support young people in the aftermath of the riots and the panel has set government a clear challenge to make this happen."

Read the full report into the riots '5 Days In August' here