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Published on August 25th, 2011 | by Lara Cronshaw
Image © [caption id="attachment_3268" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Amidst the Riots in Hackney"][/caption] Riot sentencing rows are becoming increasingly popular as the glowing embers of fury fail to subside following the trouble. Specifically in vogue seems to be finger pointing over overtly harsh sentencing. Leaked figures, according to the Guardian, show a 52% increase, to 62%, in the number of people held in custody following riot arrests. Comparably, the pre-riot average was just 10%. However a consideration of the rarity, scale and intention of the individuals, events and acts that unfolded is essential in this circumstance; statistics alone belie the abhorrent reality of one the most embarrassing and deplorable large scale, home grown incidents we have seen. A liken the scenario to two playground fights. You are involved with a small scuffle with a friend; in this instance you have effected very few others accept yourselves, the likelihood is you will get a ticking off and sent briskly on your merry little way. If, however you are involved in a whole school scrap, in the same playground, there is a much greater chance you will be put in detention or suffer worsened consequences. In this scenario, the stakes have been significantly heightened. With a far greater number of people becoming involved, the potential for disturbance and chaos has considerably increased, as has the trouble and possible damage it may have caused. Therefore so have the consequences and reparation of your actions. The same applies within the cases of our infamous looting rioters. The mess that was made and the man power it continues to require to clear it up is far beyond that of one person committing an isolated petty crime, and thus when the media singles out a story from within the riots and detaches it entirely from its context, instead comparing it with something far removed, it is no wonder the balance is evidently imperfect. This is simply and wholly missing the point. It is for this reason, and on this matter, empathy and logic are no longer with me. There were thousands of people that witnessed what went on the during the disturbing rioting mess, thousands of people looked on shocked an appalled at what they saw, thousands of people feared for their own and others safety, thousands of people have been severely affected by what happened, yet only 1,063 have been charged over the trouble. Out of the hundreds of thousands of people that live in our cities alone, they are the ones were stupid enough to get involved and get caught. Whether their crime was to steal a bottle of water, or something much more severe, their choice was to put themselves in within the minority, and in joining in with, or incite the foul behaviour of we have all witnessed, condone the violence that ultimately and tragically saw the loss of three people’s lives. I am not for a moment suggesting an individual who, for example, stole a bottle of water, is responsible the loss of a life, but instead that the individuals in question had a choice to make and whilst most level headed, non opportunistic people chose the look on disgusted, they instead chose maximise on what they saw as an opportunity. The continuation of opportunism, in this case, saw the escalation of the trouble and resulted in the above tragedy. If all those people whom are now calming to be hard done by our justice system had not decided to get involved and instead joined the with disgusted majority, there is a large chance the scale of the disturbances would not have been so far reaching and had such terrible consequences. It is precisely that thought process, choice and its knock on effects, that makes the crimes of all those involved with the riots, however small or large fundamentally worthy of tough justice.

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Playground antics; the rioters sentencing row

Amidst the Riots in Hackney

Riot sentencing rows are becoming increasingly popular as the glowing embers of fury fail to subside following the trouble. Specifically in vogue seems to be finger pointing over overtly harsh sentencing. Leaked figures, according to the Guardian, show a 52% increase, to 62%, in the number of people held in custody following riot arrests. Comparably, the pre-riot average was just 10%. However a consideration of the rarity, scale and intention of the individuals, events and acts that unfolded is essential in this circumstance; statistics alone belie the abhorrent reality of one the most embarrassing and deplorable large scale, home grown incidents we have seen.

A liken the scenario to two playground fights. You are involved with a small scuffle with a friend; in this instance you have effected very few others accept yourselves, the likelihood is you will get a ticking off and sent briskly on your merry little way. If, however you are involved in a whole school scrap, in the same playground, there is a much greater chance you will be put in detention or suffer worsened consequences. In this scenario, the stakes have been significantly heightened. With a far greater number of people becoming involved, the potential for disturbance and chaos has considerably increased, as has the trouble and possible damage it may have caused. Therefore so have the consequences and reparation of your actions. The same applies within the cases of our infamous looting rioters. The mess that was made and the man power it continues to require to clear it up is far beyond that of one person committing an isolated petty crime, and thus when the media singles out a story from within the riots and detaches it entirely from its context, instead comparing it with something far removed, it is no wonder the balance is evidently imperfect. This is simply and wholly missing the point.

It is for this reason, and on this matter, empathy and logic are no longer with me. There were thousands of people that witnessed what went on the during the disturbing rioting mess, thousands of people looked on shocked an appalled at what they saw, thousands of people feared for their own and others safety, thousands of people have been severely affected by what happened, yet only 1,063 have been charged over the trouble. Out of the hundreds of thousands of people that live in our cities alone, they are the ones were stupid enough to get involved and get caught. Whether their crime was to steal a bottle of water, or something much more severe, their choice was to put themselves in within the minority, and in joining in with, or incite the foul behaviour of we have all witnessed, condone the violence that ultimately and tragically saw the loss of three people’s lives.

I am not for a moment suggesting an individual who, for example, stole a bottle of water, is responsible the loss of a life, but instead that the individuals in question had a choice to make and whilst most level headed, non opportunistic people chose the look on disgusted, they instead chose maximise on what they saw as an opportunity. The continuation of opportunism, in this case, saw the escalation of the trouble and resulted in the above tragedy. If all those people whom are now calming to be hard done by our justice system had not decided to get involved and instead joined the with disgusted majority, there is a large chance the scale of the disturbances would not have been so far reaching and had such terrible consequences. It is precisely that thought process, choice and its knock on effects, that makes the crimes of all those involved with the riots, however small or large fundamentally worthy of tough justice.

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