London Riots
Riots in the magnitude of August London riots can happen again without urgent action, warns government panel. Reuters

Riots similar to those that rocked London and other English cities in August could recur unless there are appropriate preparations in place, an independent panel has warned.

Lack of urgent action on the part of the authorities led the riots to spread from London to other parts of the country, the Riots Communities and Victims panel has said.

The panel has also urged police authorities to review their emergency plans to ensure public order in the event of riots. The commission was set up by the government to investigate the incidents which led to the rioting following the death of Mark Duggan in a police shooting.

The initial reason for the riot was Duggan's death, and the perception of a lack of sufficient policing in London caused the violence to spread to other parts of England, the panel said.

"The streets were there for the taking and there was no single cause for the disturbances, each having its own DNA," says the panel in its interim report "5 Days in August."

"Most disturbing to us was a widespread feeling that some rioters had no hope and nothing to lose," The Guardian has quoted Darra Singh, the panel's chair, as saying. There was an absence of "hopes and dreams" among young people in many of the riot-hit areas, the panel added.

An estimated 13,000 to 15,000 people were "actively involved" in the disturbances, projected to cost the government £500 million. The panel has visited 17 riot-hit areas and spoke to thousands of people affected.

The panel declared that these were not "race riots" and most of the people involved were not gang members. Out of a total of 2,000 people brought to justice so far, 74 percent were 24 and under, 46 percent black, 42 percent white and 7 percent Asian. Seventy percent of the arrested were living in the most deprived areas and about three-quarters had previous convictions.

Duggan was shot dead by the police on Aug. 4, an incident which triggered a series of violence for five days that began in Tottenham, north London. Five people were killed and 4,000 people were arrested in connection with the worst riots in Britain's modern history.

The final report of the panel is expected to come out in March.