A desire to “have what we want when we want” and “expecting something for nothing” drove the looters on to the streets in August, according to a review set up by the Government.
The report deemed a “new religion” the desire to wear top brands to heighten peer status, plus a sense of entitlement among society.
As police in Tottenham failed to tackle the first outbreak of disturbances, looters were encouraged to continue to raid thousands of shops and businesses to “test reactions” if nothing else, the Riots Communities and Victims Panel found.
“Lack of confidence in the police response to the initial riots encouraged people to test reactions in other areas,” the panel’s interim report said.
The report also concluded:
- Up to 15,000 people were involved in the riots
- The final bill will be more than £500 million
- Another half a billion pounds will be lost because of a fall in tourism
- Nine in ten rioters had previously been arrested, cautioned or convicted
- Many victims face long delays in compensation payouts
- Police and authorities in London need to be better prepared in case the riots repeat during next year’s Olympics.
The report emphasised that stealing luxury items became the “rioters’ main objectives”.
“Increasingly we live in a society where conspicuous consumption and self worth have become intrinsically interlinked.
“In the Panel’s conversations with communities and young people, the desire to own goods which give the owner high status (such as branded trainers and digital gadgets) was seen as an important factor behind the riots.
“In addition, the idea of ‘saving up’ for something has been replaced by the idea that we should have what we want when we want.”
In the summer riots, certain stores, such as Footlocker and JD Sports as well mobile and electrical goods were repeatedly targeted.
In one store, rioters were “queuing” to get their chosen items.
The report also criticised the compensation system for those affected and called for an overhaul of the 1886 Riot Damages Act.
Some insurance companies were criticised for only paying out in certain circumstances although the Association of British Insurers (ABI) insisted insurers “pulled out all the stops” to help policy holders.