It is becoming abundantly clear that the rioters that took hold of the streets of Birmingham, London and Manchester two weeks ago show little remorse for their criminal behaviour.
The actions of the rioters across England have destroyed people's livelihoods, their homes and the confidence of the communities that could no doubt see businesses leave the areas affected. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the longer term effects of the riots will be falling house prices in the areas that were the focus of media attention as well as some areas becoming abandoned. Can anyone really blame shop keepers for not wanting to open new businesses in any of the areas affected across London and England?
It is clear that the rioters have shown no care for what they have done to the communities they live in. On Thursday, the BBC's Newsnight programme spoke to some of the rioters that were involved in the disturbances in Salford and Manchester and their responses were clear. They take no responsibility for their actions and they took whatever they could get.
The government needs to understand why communities broke down so quickly and they need to understand who the rioters are why they did what they did. In Manchester and Salford, the picture that has emerged is of youths attacking their own communities. The rioters showed no regard for the people that live and work amongst them because they saw an opportunity to take what they could. These are the social ills that the government needs to be looking into and gimmicky slogans such as the 'big society' do little to restore people's confidence in their communities.
The message from Manchester is the same as the message from Birmingham and London. The rioters did not care about the police because they had 'the power' that night. The police had lost control of the streets for four hours and English cities were lawless. The rioters came into their own because they could; some people in these communities believe they were allowed to. There was an atmosphere of mob mentality no doubt, but as Newsnight has shown, there was the sense that the rioters may not get a chance to cause such destruction again and people were not going to miss out on this opportunity.
Speaking on Newsnight, Cody Lachey, an ex-Army veteran, who has been on two tours of duty to Afghanistan, one to Bosnia as well as being employed as a security guard in Manchester was at the riots in the city but did not take part in any of the criminality. He has put the rioting down to people knowing they 'could do whatever they wanted,' claiming that it was a 'lawless' Manchester.
To claim that these people rioted because they saw what politicians were doing when the expenses scandal erupted in 2010 is simply ludicrous. Did the rioters really take that into consideration when they decided to steal iPhones, ipads and other Apple products? Did the rioters who set fire to Miss Selfridge do so because an MP claimed to have his moat cleaned? If we accept these excuses we simply allow these individuals to continue to run riot whenever they want.
The British public do not seem to buy these excuses and given the string sentences handed down by the courts, nor does the judicial services. A Yougov poll for the Sun newspaper on the 13 August asked people what they believed to be the main reason or the riots. The top answer was individual criminal behaviour with the second gang culture.
A second poll, this time an ICM poll for the Guardian on the same date revealed that 52 per cent of people blamed bad parenting on the riots with 47 per cent blaming gang culture.
The British public were appalled by what happened two weeks ago and it is time to accept that these rioters were no more than opportunists and thugs hell bent on causing damage because police were stretched. Where were the placards, marches and protesters? The government must be on the side of the communities affected and must work to stop such incidents happening again but we must not make lame excuses for the true reasons why shops were looted and homes burnt down across England a fortnight ago.