The riots of summer 2011 rocked not only the capital but also spread across the UK. Shops were looted, homes were burned and many questions were left unanswered.
News reports centred on police shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, in Tottenham as the kickstarter for the unrest across the city, but now the dust has settled, what have we learned? Were the riots a result of a much bigger trend affecting London?
Social housing and ghettoisation
After the dust settled, many started to look at London’s social housing as a cause of the unrest.
In North London, research showed that 84 per cent of rioting took place in town centres within a five minute walk of housing estates. And in South London the figure jumped to 96 per cent.
Tim Stonor is an Architect & Urban Planner Managing Director for Space Syntax. His research at Space Syntax has revealed what the Guardian referred to as “the most concrete evidence I think there is linking the summer’s riots to estates”.
The research highlighted a link between social housing and where the riots took place across the capital.
The role of social media
The role of Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging via Blackberry messenger was a hotly debated topic during and after the riots. Some went as far as to argue that Blackberry messenger helped to fan the flames of the riots, leading to rumours that David Cameron, the current prime minister had debated shutting down the internet temporarily.
Parallels were drawn between the experiences of the earlier Arab Spring and the importance of mobile messaging in organisers protesters together. During the Arab Spring many countries including Egypt attempted media blackouts to try to stem the spread of protests across the country.
Despite our own Prime Minister praising the actions of protesters in the Arab world, there was ongoing media coverage suggesting that mobile services were at the heart of the trouble spreading across the UK. The UK’s index on censorship quoted their CEO stating on their blog:
“As soon as our own Western-style stability of the state is called into question then freedom of expression is expendable. There should be one rule for all, including Western governments.”
Police investigations are ongoing and more and more conclusions are being drawn about the experiences of the riots of summer 2011. Some people believe the police should have acted quicker and closed social networks and mobile messaging systems, but were the riots a part of a much bigger problem in society?
Have your say and let us know.