The post-riots polling continues to roll on – on yesterday’s Sun poll there were some questions on the sentencing of those involved in the riots (full tabs here and here).

Overall, only 12% of people think the sentences handed down so far have been too harsh. 49% think they are about right and 32% think they have been too soft.

YouGov asked about two specific cases that have received some comment – firstly the two men in Cheshire, who received 4 year prison sentences for creating pages on Facebook that encouraged people to riot in Warrington and Northwich (neither of which saw any riots in the end). In this case 25% thought the four year sentences were too harsh, 57% about right and 12% too soft.

The second case YouGov specifically asked about was a man sentenced to two years in a young offenders institution after breaking into a supermarket during the riots, and caught by the police before (they believed) he could steal some cigarettes. In this case 19% thought the two year sentence was too harsh, 61% about right, 14% too soft.

More generally, 70% of people think that the sentences being handed down in relation to the riots have been harsher than they would normally be (compared to 13% who think they are the same and 5% less harsh), however, the majority of people seem to think this is how it should be – 59% think the courts should be giving out harsher sentences for offences during the riots than they would have before, compared to 33% who think sentences should be the same.


177 Responses to “Public opinion on riots sentencing”

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  1. Alec

    Effectively he is sying home ownership is a good thing, so we won’t tax unearned inflation in house prices, but he is happy to see much higher taxes on wages and spending without seeing that this makes it muh harder for people to buy that house to increase their security.

    I said what I said Alec (and you may disagree) but I did not say the above.

    I anticipated that you would not agree with me.

  2. Chris Lane 45

    I was sorry to hear about the Red Arrow crash.

    Thank you for clarifications

  3. @ John Fletcher

    Your point being presumably that working people and students lack judgement.
    ————————————————-
    I’m not sure I was making a point, it was an observation. If I do have a point, I think it’s that these gangs don’t seem to scare ordinary people. I wonder why is that?

    I also mentioned, on another post, that members of my family worked/ volunteered on projects in the ‘gang’ areas of Glasgow. They failed to be terrified of said gangs.

    Perhaps we should not simply be afraid of the things we are told to be afraid of.
    8-)

  4. @ Old Nat

    There is, of course, a problem in that local government finance is a devolved power. For example, the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament could decide to fund local councils differently from how England wants to do that..
    ————————————————
    It’s only a problem if you choose to make it one. The existing structure exists. If the devolved power changes to e.g. local income tax instead of council tax, the property valuations, registers etc. would not vanish in a puff of smoke.

    This ‘infrastructure’ could become part of the Inland Revenue’s remit, if local governments no longer needed it for council tax purposes.
    8-)

  5. Alec

    @Henry’s point about home ownership helping increase individual’s security, and the implied defence of his view that we shouldn’t tax increased value of properties is a classic of this kind of thinking.

    My point is classic of my kind of thinking that is why it is my point.

    My view is that there are alot of taxes that do not seem to affect the rich, and therefore fall on those with smaller incomes. You can only tax us so much on our earnings (or we would stop working) so (particularly when as a govt you have grossly overspent) you turn to our savings and if we are lucky enough and have saved hard enough our homes.

    Because these taxes always bypass the rich they remain rich, and hit the aspiring, particularly if they wish to pass some of their already taxed savings (tax as original earnings and then again as savings) on to the kids. The introduction of a wealth tax raises the money while the worker is still alive, and if retired probabably forces them to sell up.

    So the rich remain rich and their children and grand children remain rich, but there is no chance for us ordinary folk by hard work and thrift to close the gap and gain some social mobility because you tax our earnings, our savings from our taxed earnings and then introduce wealth tax or inheritance tax which taxes us again.

    As far as income is concerned it is far too high at the lower end, which is why the LD policy to greatly increase the tax free alowance is so right, and those fortunate enough to earn (receive is a better word) vast sums should pay their 50% tax or greater.

    I could not join the Labour Party as it is clear where it stands on this matter and it would anger me that my leaders such as TB and HH were swimming in money, knowing that the tax laws will do two things, firstly leave them, their children and their grand children pretty well rich and unscathed and ensure that I, my children and grand children will never be able to close the gap.

  6. @ Alec
    It’s been known about for years and has blighted many black societies. Just listen to the lyrics of Blam Blam Fever by the Valentines – that was Jamaica in 1966 they were singing about.
    ————————————-
    Glasgow has had similar gangs since as long as I can remember. Number of black people living in the Glasgow ganglands areas? Approximately zero.
    8-)

  7. @ Henry

    I could not join the Labour Party as it is clear where it stands on this matter..
    —————————————
    Yes, it is. Ed Balls & Ed Miliband have both said Labour would keep the 50% tax rate for high earners.
    8-)

  8. Amber

    My disagreement was with your assertion that a UK property tax would be “simple”.

    Obviously, if the UK Government wished to raise a property tax of a different type than was used outwith England, it would require to take over the administration of valuation – and pay for that.

  9. @Rob Sheffield – thanks for correcting me on Owen Jones. I wasn’t aware of his work and to be honest I was concentrating more on what Starkey was saying. Perhaps I should have contrasted the response to Starkey to the response to others when they talk about chavs in derogatory terms, and not Jones.

    I would also back your comment on @Chrislane1945’s post – I hadn’t seen that one but is was a very good summation of ‘old’ Labour.

    @henry – appreciate your comments. I think we’re singing from the same hymn sheet in many ways on this.

    @Amberstar – “Glasgow has had similar gangs since as long as I can remember.” I know Glasgow has a long history of gangs, but I’m not sure how closely they equate to the young black gangs elsewhere, although you may well be right and they are indeed very similar.

    Having said that, many black people I know from my time in London have been saying for years (decades) that there are fundamental problems within parts of their own communities that they believe are specific to their own cultures.

    While I always find Starkey irritating and arrogant, and his reference to Enoch P in his Newsnight comments was calculated to wind people up, I really can’t agree with people who claim he was racist – nothing he said broke that line and he was very careful to formulate what he said.

    There are problems in all communities of various types and at various levels, but I really don’t think there is any doubt that bowing to perceived cultural sensibilities has prevented an open assessment of some of these problems and has left certain problems largely unchallenged in some sections of the population. The response I get from friends within these communities is that they are the ones being hurt by this.

  10. Henry

    I am afraid I cannot agree with you – the inference that we should should encourage house inflation to ‘close the gap’ on the rich only works if you have a property – this is again where the poorer lose out as they will not be owner-occupiers.

    I also do not understand why you oppose a wealth tax on principle – we tax earnings and we tax consumption, why not taxing inheritance – possibly the one that would actually stop the accrual of wealth at the top.

    I am not saying iot is ideal – we should try and limit taxation but it seems at the moment the rich are taking the piss and it is only us in the rest of society who are suffering.

    I also find the attacks on TB and HH a bit unfair – they are not the only rich people in politics – do you prefer Osborne hiding away his wealth in a trust fund whilst cutting mobility allowance for the disabled?

    The increase of the allowance is laudable but to try and pretend that it does anything to help with the current finances is risable.

    The richer are taking a larger and larger percentage of the wealth so I think it is time for us to say enough is enough – your next argument will no doubt be, as all economic liberals say, that they will all leave the country

    And to think we think is only rioters who are asocial!

    You say you will never vote Labour – good for you. I voted LD for the last three elections and will never do so again!! Perhaps we cancel each other out

  11. Alec

    “I’m saying this as an ardent anti racist and arch leftie, but that won’t stop me siding in part with David Starkey in saying that there seems to be a serious cultural problem among many young black men.”

    We need to go where the evidence takes us – and I mean proper evidence, not just simplistic analyses such as correlations, which are assumed to be causations.

    Immediate questions that spring to mind are

    What do you mean by “cultural problem”?

    Whatever that is, is it statistically more significant for those who are “black” (I presume you are meaning “Negroid”?) as opposed to other strands of humanity, in similar socio-economic circumstances?

    Is there a difference between those descended from people who were shipped overseas as slaves, compared with those who were not?

    Is there a difference between those “blacks” with a greater degree of genetic inheritance from more recent African populations, compared with those whose genetic inheritance is more mixed with that of peoples who moved from Africa to Europe in pre-history?

    It’s a helluva complex piece of research that would have to be done! :-)

  12. Disquiet is back in Tory ranks it seems. Tim Montgomerie on ConHame is worrying tonight that Cameron has thrown away an opportunity to relaunch himself after the riots, saying

    “But where’s the fizz, the energy, the boldness, the sense of urgency? If he rose to the immediate challenge of quelling the riots he hasn’t produced anything notable or memorable since and he’s now back on holiday…”

    The cover feature for the Spectator has this “Has Cameron got what it takes to seize the day? He has just these few short weeks in the aftermath of the riots to push through the necessary reforms, with the country behind him. But does he have the gumption?
    Worringly, Cameron’s response so far has consisted more of words than action.”

    As far as the last sentence goes, I’m tempted to say that it is precisely what I was saying in 2007, but that would be too partisan for this forum.

  13. @ Old Nat

    Obviously, if the UK Government wished to raise a property tax of a different type than was used outwith England, it would require to take over the administration of valuation – and pay for that.
    ——————————–
    Only if the devolved regions cease having council tax, which they haven’t yet. And, to be honest, I don’t see the SNP ever making good on the local income tax policy; it’s too complicated, IMO.
    8-)

  14. @ Alec, Old Nat

    IMO, the Glasgow gangs debunk the myth that gang culture is a black ‘thing’ or a recent ‘thing’ or a popular culture, gangsta rap ‘thing’.

    Maybe all gang culture is driven by the same socio-economic conditions; maybe it isn’t. But to claim that gangs are a black ‘thing’ is inaccurate, IMO.
    8-)

  15. On a wealth tax.

    I have no particular objection to a move towards property taxes, so long as the overall burden of taxation doesn’t rise significantly in the process. I think the assumption that this would capture more of the wealth of the Very Rich may be a bit of a presumption, though. The rich and their accountants are canny beasts, and I can see a situation where the likes of Bernie Eccleston lives in the UK but doesn’t own so much as a car here. He’d simply rent what he needs in the UK, and hold his wealth in places we couldn’t touch it. I imagine there would be a lot of unintended consequences to such moves. Generally speaking if a measure seems obvious and yet hasn’t been done before, there is something you’re missing. As a Tory voter, I don’t actually think me or my kind are particularly bothered about clobbering the Super-rich. Tories are more concerned about not de-incentivising the middle classes, and thereby tempting people to lives of underachievement. Workshy rakes can go hang..

    On ethnic issues connected to the riots.

    I think that race is a factor, and I’ve said as much when talking about why the riots didn’t spread beyond the traditional English multi-racial cities (plus multi-racial Cardiff). There is a reasonable body of evidence that “confrontational” crime (street robbery for example) is more prevalent amongst black (and particularly African-Caribbean) people than the general population. Riots and looting are confrontational crimes (by and large).

    However I think we can make far too much of that, and it sounds like Starkey did (again). There are rioting areas (Salford for example) where the vast majority of the youths were white. There were a lot of white youths in the riots everywhere, as indeed there were in the “race” riots of the 1980s. I imagine previous generations said similar things about gypsies, the Irish, Eastern European Jews etc. The fact that there was a little bit of a “Gangsta flava” to the recent riots simply reflects the fact that there is a little bit of a “Gangsta flava” to urban youth in general.

    On “passers by” getting involved on the periphery of the riots.

    I saw an excellent academic as a talking head on the news about a week ago (unfortunately I don’t remember his name) who was asked about the phenomenon of people “getting drawn in” to looting. He was quite dismissive of this and pointed out that the natural reaction of “normal” people when they discover there is a riot taking place is to put as much distance between themselves and the riot as possible. People who follow others through a smashed window and grab what they can are a self-selecting group by virtue of the fact that they were present in the first place. He said the sort of people who are drawn to a riot are probably predisposed to crime in any event and so the fact that they join in the stealing is completely unsurprising.

  16. Amber

    There are already problems caused by the UK Government (wearing its UK hat) assuming that whatever happens in England will apply elsewhere. That happened with Attendance Allowance, when free personal care was introduced. The UK’s “one size fits all” attitude to Council Tax Benefit is a severe difficulty for any devolved administration wishing to move away from the English model.

    Personally, I prefer Land Value Tax as a better method of taxing property than Council Tax, but the likelihood is that Whitehall centralism will preven any devolved administration from implementing that.

  17. I have posted before why I get confused by the use of the word “race”. I do not see evidence that the “human race” is made up of different subspecies.

    Some bits and peices fro Wikipedia:

    “… an increasing number of college textbooks introducing physical anthropology have rejected race as a valid concept.”

    “Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within *so-called* racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them.

    Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called “racial” groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.”

    Also this (Carribean Immigrants and the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity) from an American perspective might be of interest.

    h
    ttp://www.rcgd.isr.umich.edu/prba/perspectives/spring1998/rostine.pdf

  18. Neil A

    I saw an excellent academic as a talking head on the news about a week ago (unfortunately I don’t remember his name) who was asked about the phenomenon of people “getting drawn in” to looting. He was quite dismissive of this and pointed out that the natural reaction of “normal” people when they discover there is a riot taking place is to put as much distance between themselves and the riot as possible.

    Well that might be true of middle-aged academics (though come to think of it any decent sociologist or anthropologist should be straight down with full investigative apparatus) but I don’t think it’s true of a lot of people – especially the young.

    We’re all monkeys after all – curiosity is in our genes and the younger we are, the more curious we are. What was interesting about the footage of the riots was the large number of on-lookers compared to those actually participating. Some may have been hanging round in the hope of some looting, but most seemed to be just watching.

  19. Hmm, I’m not so sure about that Roger.

    I think people who would say “There are a gang of lads down the High Street looting shops and attacking the police, I think I’ll go down there and hang out with them” are probably a minority subset even within the 13-25 range.

    You are right that the academic was middle-aged however (in fact even that’s a bit charitable. He was probably eligible for his bus pass).

  20. alec @ Rob Sheffield

    ” ..it seems at the moment the rich are taking the piss and it is only us in the rest of society who are suffering.

    The richer are taking a larger and larger percentage of the wealth so I think it is time for us to say enough is enough – your next argument will no doubt be, as all economic liberals say, that they will all leave the country.”

    Why do you accept the premise that that would be a bad thing?

    Who tells you it would be bad for Britain.?

    Are they a reliable source of objective wisdom?

    Do they give reasons that have been examined?

    Are any of the premises unsound?

    You can find people on here who will dispute on both sides the merits of raising or lowering any form of taxation; of whether the riots, or the latest tiny movment in economic or employment indicators will cause the coalition to win/lose the next election or implode by the end of next week.

    You can’t find anybody who will say “good riddance, we’rebetter off without them”.

    Now what was the last assertion that these people persuaded you to accept? Can you remember? Was it that they were economic geniuses generating wealth?

    Did you fall for that?

    Do you still believe it?

    I have long had a rule that if somebody gives me dud information just once, I treat everything they say thereafter with circumspection.

    How about you?

  21. @Billy Bob,

    What significance does the word “race” have if not applied to the various subtly different geographical and physical variations of humanity? I suppose if we stopped using it for that, we could still use it to describe fantastical “races” in fantasy and science fiction, but it seems odd to think that the word “race” doesn’t apply to the very concept it was invented to describe.

    After all, in other species, we refer to “breeds”, “sub-species” etc. “Race” is intended to add some decorum and place the variation of humanity on a higher plane.

  22. Neil A

    I don’t think they see it as ‘hanging out with’ they see it as ‘watching’. Maybe now TVs are size of windows and reality TV is everywhere (we see far more real-life police on our screen than we ever do in real life) they really don’t distinguish how they observe both. They can tell the difference and fact from fiction, they just look at them in the same way.

  23. John B Dick

    If there was no financial crisis and a huge debt problem in the West – with our current Government rapidly moving State debt to the individual then I am not really that bothered about the rich

    However, when we are told that we are close to financial collapse and we have to expect years of spending cuts and austerity then you better bloody well believe I think the rich should take some of the pain. In fact, seeing they are the ones who have won the most from the years of lax financial probity then I think they should take more of the burden.

  24. Billy Bob
    ‘Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes.’

    According to Wikipedia (and I know it’s not an infallible source) Chimps vary from humans by 2%! Another source says that we are only 15% different to mice.

    I suppose there must be different ways of measuring these things, but I think we can assume that 6% is not insignificant.

  25. @Pete B

    But the preceding sentence to the one you quote says: “… most physical variation, about 94%, lies within *so-called* racial groups.”

    So we are talking about variation within humans, not about how close we are to an ameoba.

    @Neil A – You say “‘Race’ is intended to add some decorum and place the variation of humanity on a higher plane.”

    I say – Whaaaat?
    .

  26. I’m probably a bit behind on this, but has there any breakdown of what people think about the riots its causes and sentencing by whether they are (potentially) affected?

    The polls seems to show that public wants stronger sentences, but is this a feeling across the board or is there a difference between, say, inner-city dwellers and others?

    Regards,

    Christian

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