There is a further YouGov poll on the riots for Channel 4 News (and, of course, more to come in the Sunday Times tomorrow). Earlier in the week YouGov asked people to pick what they thought was the ONE main reason for the riots in a poll for the Sun, with individual criminal behaviour followed by gang culture coming up top. The Channel 4 poll gave people a longer list, and allowed people to pick multiple main causes, and then pick the one main one.

The overall picture was still much the same (and also similar to the ICM poll for the Guardian earlier this week) – the main reasons were seen as ones of criminality and culture/societal problems: 52% of people cited poor parenting, 47% gang culture, 46% criminality, 45% lack of punishment. This was followed by inequality (16%) and unemployment (13%). Even when allowed to pick multiple options comparatively few picked government cuts (12%), racial tensions (6%) or poor policing (6%, though 6% also said the shooting of Mark Duggan. We can’t say if it was the same 6%).

YouGov found that most people (84%) thought the police response was not tough enough, but overall most thought the police had handled it well (by 65% to 32%, significantly up from when the same question was asked for the Sun earlier in the week).

Finally YouGov asked what sentences people wanted to see handed down for people involved in the riots. YouGov asked about various different possible crimes committed during the unrest – criminal damage, looting, violent disorder, arson. In every case overwhelming majorities wanted to see custodial sentences (82% for criminal damage, 93% for violent disorder, 96% for arson, 91% for looting). A majority of people (56%) wanted to see relatively short prison sentences (a year or less) for criminal damage, but a majority (63%) wanted to see people get more than a year in prison for looting and violent disorder, and 60% wanted to see people get more than 5 years for arson.

If these figures seem surprisingly lenient in the context of polling figures showing people are happy for the police to use rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon on rioters, it isn’t actually that unusual – the public are not always quite as reactionary on law and order as some poll findings suggest. On sentencing, while polls asking in the abstract if sentences are harsh enough invariably show people would like sentences to be harsher, if you ask people what sentences should be given for particular crimes they are often quite comparable to actual sentencing guidelines.

There is also a ComRes poll for the Indy on Sunday and Sunday Mirror – there are no voting intention figures, and the riot questions are, annoyingly, all asked as agree/disagree statements (I suspect the reason the Indy always commission questions in this format is financial reasons – looking at ComRes’s site in their online polls it’s significantly cheaper to commission ranks of agree/disagree statements than individual ones!). ComRes found 83% of people agreed with a statement that social media contributed to the levels of violence, that 59% agreed with a statement that TV coverage of the riots helped fuel them and that 50% agreed with a statement that the government’s response to the economic crisis helped fuel the rioters.

Still to come tonight we have the YouGov/Sunday Times voting intention figures, and I’ll do a post on the full results tomorrow.

7 Responses to “YouGov/Channel 4 poll on the riots”

  1. Not surprised there’s been no real change in people’s opinions. In cases like this (where people instantly ‘supported’ the police more than the politicians), various low-level political point scoring wouldn’t really change people’s minds.

    Regarding the Indy poll, as I mentioned in another post, I thought the questions were fairly rubbish:

    “Agree/Disagree: Government ministers failed to return to their desks quickly enough from holidays”

    Along with the loaded and biased:

    “Agree/Disagree: The Government’s response to the economic crisis (eg, cuts to services, unemployment, reduced education funding) is helping fuel the rioters”


  2. @DavidB, Amber Star – As recently as August 5th The Sun was predicting a cabinet office post for Laws

    ‘Mr Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg believe his peace-making skills within the Coalition will outweigh any backlash about his frontline return.

    Mr Cameron told a confidant: “Nick and I want David back. September or October is not too early. We need him back as soon as possible. It’s very important for us now to have more voices like his inside Government.”‘

    My question at the time: If Laws is the solution, what is the big problem for the coalition atm?


  3. Though some of the responses are quite robust, it does seem a bit of a change since the poll where 33% thought live ammunition should have been used on the rioters.

    I wonder if people know what live ammunition means? Or is it because the death penalty wasn’t an option in this poll?

  4. The answer to all the governments problems with image perception is here:

    Some disasters you can see coming. It’s called leading with your chin.

  5. Billy Bob @DavidB, Amber Star

    “Mr Cameron told a confidant: “Nick and I want David back. September or October is not too early. We need him back as soon as possible.”

    Maybe he deserves a second chance, but that, for anyone else, would be a discretionary concession, not a right, and has to be weighed up against both the risks and the wider consequenses.

    Perhaps the “heir to Blair” relishes the PR challenge and the opportunity to do what he is good at – spin.

    The excuse that Labour did it too, is essentially the same argument used by jailed MP expenses claimants, benefit cheats, rioters, phone hackers and greedy bankers.

    Does that make it right? Is right different from wrong? Does It depend on whether your opponents do it too.

    They’re all in it together. In this case, possibly including the Labour leadership who may be in collusion.

    A minister in the Scottish Government was forced to resign and is now back after an election in a different capacity. The circumstances could not be more different. and the comparison is instructive.

  6. Anthony

  7. Anthony

    “– the public are not always quite as reactionary on law and order as some poll findings suggest.” which is consistent with the inconsistency of the reluctance to convict when we had capital punishment and the poll findings that people are in favour of it.

    Could it be that the way the questions are asked influences the outcome to such an extent that in some cases the whole process is not sufficiently robust to be of any value?