YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun yesterday had topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9% – nothing out of line with the recent YouGov averages. Crime had predictably shot up the list of what people thought were the important issues facing the country, 48% of people picked crime (up from 23% a fortnight ago), making it the second most picked issue after the economy.

There were also a series on questions specifically on the riots. While 91% of people thought it was right that Cameron & Boris Johnson had returned from their holidays, they were generally seen as having handled the riots badly so far. Only 28% thought Cameron & May had handled them well, 24% thought Boris had handled it well (though of course, much of the fieldwork was done prior to Cameron & Johnson having done anything but get on a plane!). People were on balance positive about how the police had handled the riots- 52% thought they had handled them well, but a large minority (43%) thought they’d done badly.

Asked if the police should be able to use various tactics in response to riots provoked some pretty gung ho responses – 90% of people thought they should be able to use water cannon, 84% mounted police, 82% curfews, 78% tear gas, 72% tasers, 65% plastic bullets, 33% live ammunition. 77% thought that the army should be brought in.

People also tended to feel that most of those rioting would get away with it. Only 13% thought that the majority of most of those rioting would eventually be prosecuted and punished, 67% thought that the majority would get away with it, 18% that most or all would get away with it.


346 Responses to “YouGov poll on the riots”

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  1. first!

  2. Hopefully tonight’t poll will repeat the question on govt inisters handling o fhte issue, might start to have some emaning then. The question was a bit premature.

  3. Oh dear, typos! Try again:

    Hopefully tonight’s poll will repeat the question on govt ministers handling of the issue, might start to have some meaning then. The question was a bit premature.

  4. There’s been a lot of nonsense in the last few days in various contexts about the need for police, teachers, parents to “impose discipline”.

    If we start from there then no solution is going to be forthcoming. Discipline doesn’t come from outside, it comes from within. What these flawed analyses mean is the imposition of control. Which eventually breaks and we get what we have seen in the last few days.

    Discipline comes at least in part from feelings of shared values and shared purpose between different sections of a community. The long-term solutions need to include mechanisms and structures that inculcate those shared values – a pride in where you come from, an investment in making it better, feeling part of a larger entity…

    Unsurprisingly, these are precisely things that gang culture provide.

  5. Only around 100 have been charged yet and those sentenced received non-custodial sentences.

    The public want 3-5 years jail-time and 5-7 years for those with ‘previous’.

    The disconnect between public wishes and the reality of jail-time is *seriously* worrying, and the fact that you’ll not get a job on release does not matter to those who expected to spend a life on benefits anyway.

    Go figure, and only when Westminster starts acting in the public’s interests will people respect them again.

    We have 20 years (at least) of austerity ahead (probably 50+) and growth rates of 1% (at best) as debt-fuelled consumption is removed from the system and all our national debts repaid.

    Social Democracy (big State, big Welfare etc) has ended and we now need to look for a new socio-political model, such as that of the period 1919 to 1945.

  6. One of the polls ought to investigate the question “Has the Media overblown the situation”.

    I’d be interested to see the findings for that.

    After all, I’m someone old enough to remember the Mods and Rockers riots – for such they were, really – and the NF demonstrations (and minor riots), the huge fights between Teds and Punks, the various demos that have turned into smaller scale riots, the 1981 riots, things like Broadwater Farm (1985?) and so on and so on…

    It seems to me that these are events that have always happened (in all countries and throughout history) and they probably always will.

  7. Some observers feel government policy and the economic context have no bearing on crime rates.

    However historically research has indicated that they DO: indeed the Police have (for decades) utilised models where crime is predicted/ related to levels of poverty and unemployment.

    IMO there is no doubt that ‘criminal activity’ is at the basis of most of the “copycat” disorder.

    However, no matter how much people and politicians try to spin the ‘pure criminality’ line these events occured on this governments watch and reflect badly- in public opinion- on *this* government.

    That is the tough truth for Cameron and the Tories. It is also why he wants parliament (and EdM) front and centre on this tomorrow ;-)

    I would expect no decrease in the underlying 7-8% Labour lead any time soon….

  8. I’m very disturbed to live in a country where 33% of people apparently think mowing down rioters with live ammunition is acceptable.

  9. @ Rob Sheffield

    IMO there is no doubt that ‘criminal activity’ is at the basis of most of the “copycat” disorder.
    ___________________________________________

    When the criminals saw the Students Rioters getting away with disorder last year and using social networking to organise themselves it was inevitable that criminals (organised or otherwise) would eventually use the same means to further their criminal activities.

    Indeed it seems that some of the rioters appearing in court yesterday are college students, not poor disenfranchised uneducated underclass.

  10. “Social Democracy (big State, big Welfare etc) has ended and we now need to look for a new socio-political model, such as that of the period 1919 to 1945”.

    Yes – what a successful period that was. And what was that small incident called that happened towards the period’s end, around 1939-1945? Its name seems to have slipped my mind.

  11. There is no doubt about it that due to various events over tbe last 20/30 years, the Police have softened their tactics. Going forward they are going to have to be robust and deal with any issues that follow. The Government will have to find the money to maintain or increase Police numbers, as tough economic times will no doubt lead to increased crime. Boris was correct to say that he cannot sanction removing 2000 Police officer posts in London. The money will have to be found.

  12. James Moore,

    Are you saying that the absence of a welfare state from 1919 to 1939 caused World War II?

  13. Is Cameron soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime ? He talks a good game, but is it all PR spin ? Remember ‘hug a hoodie’ before the election, which concerned understanding youth issues. Also Ken Clarke has been putting forward a liberal soft agenda, with alternatives to prison being looked at. Not sure where the Government are with their law and order agenda. Very mixed messages.

    Cameron is being asked about maintaining or increasing numbers of Police/prison places and he sticking to the cuts agenda. Is he actually in the real world ? Some Police have been working 20+ hour shifts during this current public disorder outbreak. Also with population numbers still on the increase, you have to make sure you have appropriate numbers of Police. It is simply not good enough for a PM to just talk about efficiency changes, so that more Police can be on the beat. It is far more complicated than that, so the Home secretary should be sat down with ACPO, working out a proper assessment of required warranted Police Officer and PCSO numbers.

  14. Mike Smithson’s website shows that (according to YouGov) 84% of Labour supporters don’t blame the cuts for causing the riots.

  15. Andy JS – No it doesn’t. 84% of Labour supporters didn’t put the cuts as the *main* cause of the riots. It doesn’t follow that they don’t see it as a contributory factor of some sort.

  16. It seems to me that this has been a festering problem, a bit like a powderkeg, waiting for the spark to set it all off. So blaming the cuts would be like blaming Gavrilo Princip for what followed. And no, I don’t think live ammunition is a great solution to this.

    It’s been a wakeup call to those of us like me living in pleasant leafy suburbs. Those police cuts will have to be reconsidered and unfortunately the money that would have been saved taken from something else.

    No wonder parliament was recalled. DC can’t afford not to share the blame.

  17. No – what I am saying is that the socio-political model of the 1919-39, which was similar across Europe (but not the USSR) and the USA, give rise to economic policies based on austerity, which resulted in social, political and economic dislocation. In some countries, this dislocation led to people turning towards populist and authoriantarian government, … which ultimately lead to WWII.
    The majority of British People rejected this pre-war socio-political model when they returned a Labour Government in 1945.

  18. Robert Newark (previous thread)

    Alec
    “I’m increasingly worried about the ethnic side of this. Apart from a minor disturbance in Gloucester, all the rioting has been in areas with black populations, and judging solely by TV coverage only (so clearly only an impression and not a definitive statement of fact) the majority of the rioters appear to be black.

    Alec it’s not just on the TV film, it was reported on BBC News (yes the BBC!) yesterday that 80% of the miscreants appearing in the magistrates court in London were black. They included a youth worker, a university student & several who were in good jobs. I was happy to hear that many were hanging their heads in shame but that all have been referred to the Crown Court where the maximum penalty is 10 years in gaol. (Magistrates only 6 months). As these crimes are so serious, I sincerely hope that many will get the maximum sentence

    Although ‘gangsta’ culture has some part to play in all this, particularly at the start, even that influences youths in other racial groups. In fact even determining who is ‘black’ is increasingly difficult because most kids with a black parent also have a white one – Britain is full of mixed race people who you don’t realise are (Ryan Giggs for example).

    The initial impressions of black involvement were partly due to the original incident, but also because a lot of copy-cat riots took place in outer Inner London which tend to have substantial black populations – and lots of media folk to report it, what you might call the Clapham effect. Riots in less trendy places: Bromley, Beckenham, Ilford got less coverage unless they were really spectacular like Croydon. Certainly at most of the disturbances outside London seemed to reflect the areas ethnicity. though as it happens there is quite a big black population in the centre of Gloucester.

    I heard a report similar to the one Robert Newark quoted on PM yesterday. I assume the ethnic balance was due to the fact you would expect the first batch to be from Tottenham (it was a North London court). Incidentally only 5% of the YouGov sample thought ‘racial tensions’ were the cause of the riots. OldNat will be pleased to see that the pol is titled “Riots in England” (my italics), though he presumably there at the moment warming his beer over a burning footwear store.

  19. Has anyone else noted that this has been an English problem ?

    No riots in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

    Why is this ?

  20. R HUCKLE

    All the police cells in Greater London were full yesterday. You can’t get away with a tough policy on law and order if you are cutting erxpenditure on the facilities and agencies which are responsible for maintaining law and order.

    Quite a lot of people will now know that the best estimate is that there will be 10,000 fewer police in a few years time and a probable reduction in prison places. This will do the Tories a lot of harm and ruin their reputation as the law and order party as well as accelerating thye decline in Cameron’s approval rating.

  21. I agree with much of what has been said.

    I’ve often thought greedy bankers/corporate types are also victims of capitalism and their greedy parents – and, hence, their upbringing. They cannot be held totally responsible as everyone is a result of their environment/parents. Maybe they do not feel a true part of their community in the same way that rioters don’t? That’s why I think education is arguably more important than punishment, though both have to go hand-in-hand, clearly!

  22. I think think the fact that this poll had so many extremist as respondents, some what lowers it’s value. 33% calling for the use of live fire by the police. These people are as extreme as the rioters.

  23. Actually the most popular option to the YouGov question Thinking about the recent riots in London and other cities in Britain, which of the following do you think is the MAIN cause of the riots? is a bit silly if you think about it. Saying it is “Criminal behaviour” is a bit like deciding that the main cause of crime is breaking the law. Tautology is not explanation.

    One thing that should cause worries though, is the response to To what degree, if at all, do you trust the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate and rule upon complaints against the police fairly? Although Total Trust wins 58% to 31%, 31% is still a lot a people to be dissatisfied and probably reflects a general cynicism and distrust of the police and a feeling that they have immunity for their actions. As it happens I think the IPPC has have been genuinely independent so far in these circumstances, but it is important that that be allowed to continue.

  24. I think those at the ‘top’ of our society need rehabilitation and education as much as those at the bottom. In most cases education and investment is the key – not fines or prison sentences, though sometimes they are necessary.

  25. @Clad,

    It’s not necessarily that the respondents are any more extreme than average – just that feelings are pretty intense after recent events. It’s bound to be influenced by them.

  26. R Huckle,why no riots in Wales?Do not count your chickens,Newport,twenty miles from where I Iive has a very
    high crime rate indeed.However it does not have a large
    ethnic community(as far as I am aware).Furthermore the
    Welsh are an affable race on the whole.However there is a great amount of social deprivation,particularly in the Valleys.So I guess it comes down to what is the underlying cause of this unrest, on which I would not like
    to hazard a guess.

  27. Clad,

    Although I wouldn’t support such a policy, I suppose proponents would argue (correctly) that if the police threatened to use live fire then there wouldn’t be any rioters to shoot.

  28. Erm… it’s a sample of the general public. There wouldn’t be much point in doing polls of “GB adults (excluding those whose opinions were a bit icky)”

  29. AmbivalentSupporter

    I agree with much of what has been said.

    I’ve often thought greedy bankers/corporate types are also victims of capitalism and their greedy parents – and, hence, their upbringing. They cannot be held totally responsible as everyone is a result of their environment/parents. Maybe they do not feel a true part of their community in the same way that rioters don’t? That’s why I think education is arguably more important than punishment, though both have to go hand-in-hand, clearly!

    I could not agree more and it’s important that intervention start now. Those failing educational institutions that produce such misfits (Eton, Harrow, and other so called ‘public’ schools) should be closed down immediately, so their pupils have a chance in life. The sort of people that actually choose to send their children there – often so they can live their own selfish lives of pleasure without having to look after their children – should be subject to close supervision and if they are shown to be continuing to fail, their other children should be taken from them for adoption. Some people may advocate sterilisation.

    Furthermore those from such backgrounds who have been allowed to form neighbourhood ‘gangs’ in areas such as parliament, law, the City and the media should be removed from these areas and the gangs broken up. We may have to use firearms and live ammunition. It’s the only language they understand.

  30. “The sort of people that actually choose to send their children there – often so they can live their own selfish lives of pleasure without having to look after their children – should be subject to close supervision and if they are shown to be continuing to fail, their other children should be taken from them for adoption. Some people may advocate sterilisation.”

    Yes, I agree. I would extend this to all serious rioters/criminals (if they are children), who should be subjected to close supervision, and, if necessary taken away from their parents – who have clearly failed them. Sterilisation is a bit extreme, though IMO. I think the same goes for those at the so-called ‘top’ of our society who are committing corporate crimes/tax evasion. I don’t think they should be punished in most cases, or fined – rehabilitation is much more effective and education are far more effective. They need to understand that their unpaid taxes/bonuses are harming the communities in which they live – the problem is that most don’t get to truly see the result of their actions. We also need to try to understand their mindset more. I think only then can we make real progress with all of these groups of people.

  31. *rehabilitation and education are generally far more effective.

    Excuse the typos!

  32. @ Ann (in Wales)

    I know Newport reasonably well as I have had friends who have lived and worked worked in the area. In some parts of Newport they are quite poor but there is a sense of neighbourlyness, where everyone makes an effort to get to know each other. Also they tend to look out for each other, which I am not sure is the case in many parts of England.

    So I think that the Welsh generally have a different mentallity. Yes they have some of the same crime issues, but I can’t see them smashing up their town centres and going looting.

    Plus I think the Police in Wales are more in touch with their communities. There was a TV programme on a while back, which showed how the Police kept in touch with known trouble makers, by making the occasional visit to them, just to tell them that they have not been forgotten and that they would have an eye kept on them to make sure they were behaving.

  33. “Furthermore those from such backgrounds who have been allowed to form neighbourhood ‘gangs’ in areas such as parliament, law, the City and the media should be removed from these areas and the gangs broken up. We may have to use firearms and live ammunition. It’s the only language they understand.”

    I don’t agree with that. Rehabilitation and education are such effective tools for reforming people – they have been shown to be much more successful than many punishments imposed by courts. We have to realise that we need to understand their motivations and reasoning. After gaining a better understanding, we then need to look at ways of rehabilitating them, so that they can be a positive influence in their communities.

    Rich people blame poor people for society’s ills, whilst the poor blame the rich. The truth is that both sections of society need our understanding and help.

  34. Roger Mexico

    What on earth have you been smoking today?

  35. Seriously, thats at the Lembit Opik end of the sanity spectrum

  36. Roger M – hee hee.

    Well, no movement yet but my reasoning for expecting same is what happened after the student riots, at least for a short period.

  37. @ Roger Mexico 1.18pm

    Good post. Made be laugh, but there is a point to what was said. . I have known just as much disfunctional behavior from private school kids as I have from those that went to the local comp. Someone I know who visited private schools to run events, as well as comps, said that the worst behaviour came from the private schools kids. We have seen in some of the riots regarding tuition fees for example, that some of the people involved came from well off backgrounds. So you can’t just say that the riots are just the poor rebelling.

  38. “I have known just as much disfunctional behavior from private school kids as I have from those that went to the local comp.”

    I agree. That’s why we need to look at the complex range of reasons for the behaviour we are currently seeing in all sections of our society. Punishment is not the solution – though it is needed in a minority of violent cases, or where it is deemed necessary.

    I think behavioural problems are undoubtedly felt a lot more in the poor inner city schools, but this is probably down to economic deprivation and family breakdown more than anything. We need to look at the reasons and solutions for this, as well as why some middle class and rich people are committing white collar crimes such as tax evasion, fraud etc. and what we can do about it. What is clear is that solutions to our current problems will only come about through better understanding, as well as rehabilitation and reformation.

  39. Theresa May refusing to meet Polce Federation saying she is too busy. The other day when she was with Boris, she walked away when the public were telling him there were not enough Police.

    Think Cameron will need to reshuffle his cabinet soon, to bring in some people who are prepared to work long hours and have relationships with the key bodies within the area of their responsibility.

    It is clear to me that several cabinet ministers are not up to the job. Personally I also think Cameron has questions to answer regarding his performance.

  40. @Robin

    I completely agree with your statement. The very idea that this is all due to a lack of disipline and that somehow the answer to all our social woes is to tighten disipline and order is too simplistic IMO.

    All that would do is just cool things down and help things in the short term but provides no effective long-term solution. Immedately what is needed is for the police to be deployed and using as much tough possible means for now to take control of the streets, short to medium term is for the government to reconsider the police cuts but in the long term we seriously need a long term solution where we can bring a sense of community, shared values and a collective purpose.

    I would be quite happy for the government to introduce a National Service kind of service perhaps calling it a Society Service where people do voluntary, youth, community and if they so wise military work. In fact, I think the government’s own plan is far too leninet, what they plan to do is make it voluntary, I would argue that all teenagers and young adults 13-21 should do a compulsory scheme in the summer (unless they cant like work or holidays).

    But finally what is needed is a complete restructure of our society on a economic, policitical, social and domestic level where we can bring fourth a shared, collective and communal society. I could be here all day if I could least my own suggestions but I think we can guess that our current society which relies on individualism, survival of the fitest etc. etc. does not work.

    On another point, I do not support the mobs or violence. Again, this is disgraceful and as I always say to my peers…We should sympathesis with criminals from disadvantage backgrounds but we should never excuse them. In other words it comes back to the rhetoric “tough on crime, tough on the causes” we need for immediate action these criminals brought to justice, given a sentence but at the same time readdress the social problems as well.

  41. R HUCKLE

    Your comments about public (private) school educated young men are very relevant. I’s just a pity that so many of the leading members of the government were boarders at some of the most prominent of these schools (such as Eton) and I hope that the lack of morality associated with some alumni of such places ( tax evasion for instance) has no ‘infected’ these ministers.

  42. On a different subject. Watch the FTSE nose dive within the next hour or so, as there is turmoil ahead of the US markets opening.

    If there is a continued slow down in most western economies, this is going to put massive pressure on the government to make even more cuts. They need to maintain Police numbers and put money into youth training etc, but they don’t have any money. Tax rises at the next budget ?

  43. As for me, I don’t dislike the poor or rich. I think there are undoubtedly many poorer people committing benefit fraud (either, technically, or un-technically), just as I believe that many wealthy and rich people are deliberately avoiding tax. It would be incredibly naive to think that either are not happening IMO. Both are equally as bad and unacceptable. They both involve fleecing the hard-working taxpayer and those who are genuinely claiming welfare (or genuine rich/wealthy taxpayers) of what should rightfully be theirs.

    This battle should not be a class one IMO, but one of educating those who do not abide by society’s norms and rules. They then need to be reformed accordingly.

  44. R Huckle,yes,I agree with your comments on Wales,or at least the parts of it we know.Newport centre on a saturday
    night is a scary place,but then so are many city centres.In
    Abergavenny,where I live there is a visible(and) friendly
    police presence;and the police do a lot of community liason work with local schools.There is however very little
    for young people to do at night apart from drinking in pubs
    which is perhaps a problem elsewhere as well.

  45. R Huckle,I am afraid that we spoke too soon. Apparently
    there were disturbances in Cardiff last night.Rather odd
    that as Cardiff seems a pleasant,prosperous place.

  46. @AIW

    “R Huckle,I am afraid that we spoke too soon. Apparently
    there were disturbances in Cardiff last night.Rather odd
    that as Cardiff seems a pleasant,prosperous place.”

    It was probably all the English who live there !! or a well known celebrity having a drinking binge again.

    I went to Abergavenny once. You really have to be good at hill starts when you are driving, as I have never seen roads as steep. That was quite a long time ago, so if it is not hilly then I might be thinking of somewhere else in South Wales.

  47. Well I must confess I wasn’t being entirely serious (though it is interesting how well it hangs together as an argument). But there are some points that come from it.

    As R Huckle says people from privileged backgrounds can behave as badly as anyone else. Often they’re worse because they think (rightly) that they will get off more lightly or completely. How many restaurants do you think Dave and Boris and George (and Nick Robinson) smashed up when they were in the Bullingdon? It’s still criminal damage if you pay for it afterwards. Do you think any of the looters will be let off if they offer to pay for their purloined trainers?

    But there’s something else I was thinking about. Several studies have shown that those who rise to the top of modern business in Britain and America tend to have the same traits as those who rise to the top in gangs. Unfortunately many of these traits are psychopathic or associated with that condition. You are reminded of it in the personal behaviour deemed acceptable, even admired, in top business people, newspaper editors, even politicians. Similarly the commercial behaviour now thought proper, particularly the short-termism and the concentration on self reward, is also very indicative.

    You could also see the gang behaviour mirrored in the tendency of such people to gather a little coterie around them and rule those in the wider organisation by fear. Much of this behaviour, now praised, would have been judged unacceptable even 50 years ago.

  48. R Huckle

    @AIW

    “R Huckle,I am afraid that we spoke too soon. Apparently
    there were disturbances in Cardiff last night.Rather odd
    that as Cardiff seems a pleasant,prosperous place.”

    It was probably all the English who live there !!

    In that case, seeing it’s August, why isn’t Edinburgh ablaze? (Alternatively it may be, and the rioting has already won ‘Best New Production’)

  49. @Roger Mexico,

    I could tell you were just being facetious in your previous post. ;-)

    I have to say I agree with you 100%. Poor people and rich often behave equally unacceptably. Excuses should not be made publicly for either, even if the underlying causes of such behaviour should be looked at, understood and acted upon.

    It’s worth re-iterating that there are many decent poor, middle class and rich people. The ones behaving in a socially unacceptable way are in the minority, even if the effects of their behaviour are being felt in many different ways up and down the country.

  50. Coverage on here is fascinating.

    The root cause of this violence is a disaffection and alienation of various groups who are routinely excluded from the mainstream. Much of the commentary from the right wing posters on here sees the rioters and their communitries as a nation apart in any case ( shades of “the enemy within”) where they define the nation and citizenry explicitly and implicitly by excluding these groups – who already feel that exclusion and define themselves by it in any case..This generates a vicious cycle where both the dispossessed and the mainstream identify each other as having different interests and belonging to different tribes.

    In other words it’s “Them” and “Us” . The police’s job in those circumstances according to right wing posters is to protect “us” from “Them” and to use as much violence as necessary ( fire with fire has been the general response.) In fact many of “us” would probably prefer far more violence against “them” than necessary as they hate”Them” anyway. Hence the 33% supporting live ammo.

    This leads to a complete separation and almost an apartheid system within many major cities in England. It has a racial component but not exclusively so – there is also the “chav” nation of Burberry clad excluded white.

    Another of Britain’s fundamental problems is its huge inequality. In cities of high density the rich and dispossessed live very close by. This fuels both the resentment of the poor and the availability of goods that they hope will address their sense of injustice. To describe this as criminality is true, but misses the deeper root cause of the envy and emnity at its core.

    The final societal problem that fuels these riots is misplaced aspiration. For about 30 years aspiration has equated almost exclesively to wealth rather than wider concepts of enlightenment or participation or community or education or culture or family or faith or utility or self esteem . Thus success is measured by all sectors in our society in purely cash terms . We even have ridiculous concepts such as Social Entrepeneurs as though wealth accretion were an essential and desirable quality in itself. Given this societal obsession with largely pointless consumerist displays of wealth then it is no surprise that these become the rioters’ fundamental objects of desire.

    The rioters behaviours are extreme and we do need a return to civil order. Their motivations and objectives are however essentially those of the vast majority of members of our society. That of self gratification, a desire for stuff, and a need to prove your superiority over those you define as being “other” than yourself.

    How we resolve this in the long-term, in a modern capitalist society is an almost impossible conundrum. Their values reflect the values of society as a whole – it is merely their actions which differ. So society can punish their actions and hopefully deter repeat events but cannot tackle the underlying causes and values as the underlying causes and values are almost universally held ones in a capitalist system.

    I guess this kind of behaviour is the price we have to pay for a materialistic, self-obsessed society.

    That’s depressed me now.

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