Gangs were not a major cause of the riots this summer, says a government report. Figures released today by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice say gang members only made up 13 per cent of those arrested in connection with the unrest this summer. In London the figure was higher, at one in five rioters thought to be linked to a gang. A government spokesman said: “In terms of the role gangs played in the disorder, most forces perceived that where gang members were involved, they generally did not play a pivotal role.” The figures also show that 42 per cent of rioters were white, 46 per cent were black, seven per cent were Asian and five were classed as “other”. Figures show rioters were poorer, with 35 per cent claiming benefits for being out of work, compared to a national average of 12 per cent. Around 90 per cent of the rioters who appeared in court were male and around half of them were under 21. Five per cent were over 40-years-old. Teacher, aged 31, looted in riots Riots: JD Sports looting caught on video Two thirds of the young people in court had a special educational need, while the national average is 21 per cent. Of the people who appeared in court, 76 per cent already had a criminal record, which is higher than previously thought. Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert said: “These figures confirm that, in the vast majority of cases, existing criminals were out in force during the disturbances in August. “The fact that half of recorded crimes were for offences like stealing and looting shows that most of what we saw was motivated by opportunity and greed. “The tough sentences that have rightly been handed down to rioters, and subsequently upheld on appeal, send out a strong deterrent message that society will not tolerate the appalling behaviour we saw on our streets.” The Met Police also said in a separate report that there were not enough officers available during the first night of unrest.
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