Last Thursday I enjoyed meeting 50 or so pupils of Ealing 6th forms at a Question Time style event at the Town Hall. There were pupils from Greenford, Cardinal Wiseman and Featherstone.
The panel included Superintendent Ian Jenkins from the police, Mike Cox, the LibDemâ€™s GLA candidate for Ealing & Hillingdon, Stephen Pound, North Ealing MP, a representative of the UK Youth Parliament and me. The event was chaired by Ealingâ€™s Youth Mayor, Jahanara Chaudhry.
The largest part of our two hours was taken up by a discussion of the riots in August, in particular the question â€œWhat caused the riots this year?â€.
Unlike the BBCâ€™s Question Time the audience were given first crack at the questions. I wrote down the dozen responses to this key question. Apologies for not being able to record the names of those who spoke.
It happened because it was allowed to happen. People saw this looting was getting people something and joined in. It is because youths wanted to break something & steal something. Government partly to blame for the riot. Just plain criminality. It was mainly organised crime. The sheer anger of kids being treated in a certain way. It was criminality â€“ people behind it thought that they could get away with it. It was done by opportunists. It was done by criminals but there is not enough for them to do. Breakdown of communication between government and the Youth. There is a reason those people have got criminal records.
The apologists were very much in the minority. The majority saw this as a crime and public order problem. Top marks all round!