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.

ICM poll on the riots

The Guardian have an online ICM poll on the riots, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. As in the YouGov poll at the start of the week, both David Cameron and Boris Johnson have negative ratings on how they handled the riots – 30% think Cameron did a good job dealing with them, 44% a bad job; 28% think Boris did a good job, 38% a bad job. In contrast Tim Godwin, the acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan police is seen as having done a good job by 45% to 27%.

The majority of the public (61%) are confident that the police are enforcing the laws fairly and without prejudice (36% are not), however only 41% are confident they have the resources available to control riots (56% do not).

Finally ICM asked people what they thought were the cases of the riots – as with the YouGov polling earlier this week people were most likely to blame it upon criminal individuals and cultural/societal problems, rather than economic, political, racial or policing problems. 45% said the main reason was criminal individuals, 28% a lack of respect within families and communities, 8% unemployment, 5% the shooting of Mark Duggan (2% said policing more generally), 4% the government and 2% the economic situation.


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.

Last night’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 44%, LDEM 9% – very much the norm as of late. If there is any effect on the polls from the riots you shouldn’t expect to see them yet anyway.

In the meantime, today’s poll had some updated figures on the death penalty – YouGov found 62% would support the death penalty for the murder of a child, 53% would support the death penalty for the murder of a police officer, 63% would support it for murder as part of a terrorist act and 65% would support it for multiple murders. However, only 38% of people would support the death penalty for all cases of murder, with 43% opposed.

For what most people are probably really interested in, we should get the first polling touching upon the riots tonight or tomorrow.

Topline results in this week’s Sunday Times poll are CON 35%, LAB 44%, LDEM 9% – still very much in line with YouGov’s average Labour lead of around 8 points. Full tabs are here. On the leader ratings, both Cameron and Miliband are down from a week ago – Cameron’s approval rating is minus 14 (down from minus 11), Miliband’s is minus 22 (down from minus 17). Time will tell whether Miliband’s ratings drop back to their pre-Hackgate levels or whether he has permanently improved the public’s perception of him.

On the economy, 40% of people think the government should be cutting less, 26% cutting more with 20% thinking they are getting it about right – it suggests that slightly more people are backing the strategy of large cuts than oppose it, but that there is a sizeable chunk of people who support cuts who don’t think the government are doing enough to deliver them. There is a similar pattern on public sector jobs, but here the overall balance of opinion is in the other direction – 48% think there are too many public sector job cuts, 20% not enough and 20% about right.

On public sector pensions, 48% of people think it is right that public sector workers pay more towards their pensions, 35% disagree. Support and opposition to strike action by public sector workers mirrors this almost exactly – 36% support it, 49% oppose it.

On Syria there is little appetite for intervention. Only 27% would like to see the international community intervene, and if the UN did approve intervention, only 29% would support British troops taking part, 52% would be opposed. Finally, views on Charlie Gilmour’s sentencing are split down the middle – 24% think it was too harsh, 26% too soft, 43% about right.

The only other poll in the Sunday papers is Survation in the Mail on Sunday, who found 53% of people in favour of a return of the death penalty – pretty typical of recent years.