Unmask the rioters

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
August 25, 2011, 6:51 PM GMT+0

Eight in ten British people think that under-18s connected with the riots that took place earlier this month should be named, even though courts do not normally reveal the identities of young people under 18, our poll has found.

Relatedly, over nine in ten people think that those involved in the rioting should help repair damaged property.

Possible measures taken against rioters

  • 95% of British people say those involved in rioting or looting should help repair property they damaged
  • 81% say that people involved in rioting or looting should personally apologise to their victims
  • 81% think that under 18s involved with the riots should be publicly named
  • 68% think people involved in the rioting or looting should have any welfare benefits they may receive removed
  • 62% think those involved who are council house tenants should be evicted from their homes
  • While just 34% think that parents whose children, living with them, were involved in the riots, should face eviction
  • 42% oppose this

As of last week, more than 3,000 people had been arrested in connection with the riots which took place in cities across England earlier this month. More than 1,200 people have been before the courts, and of those, 21% have been under 18.

Punishments so far have included the jailing for four years of two youths who were found guilty of trying to incite rioting over popular social networking site Facebook (which 50% of our respondents said sounded ‘about right’), while another man was given 18 months for stealing a television in his car.

The Government has faced criticism from the press and other MPs, including Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile, for the extent of the punishments being handed down to rioters, with some arguing that the punishments have been too harsh. However, some commentators have called for even harsher retribution.

‘Tough message’

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told the BBC, ‘Sentencing decisions are based on the individual circumstances of each case and offender. That is why different offenders may be given different sentences for what might appear to be similar crimes.’

Similarly, last week Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘It's up to the courts to make decisions about sentencing, but they've decided to send a tough message and it's very good that the courts feel able to do that.’