What triggered the riots
4th August: During a fatal shooting in Tottenham (North London), gang member Mark Duggan is shot dead by a policeman
Police stopped the car in which M.D. Was a passenger, he was to be arrested for illegaly obtaining a firearm
M.D. was asked to stop running/walking and did not obey → 4 shots followed
Also, the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) argue that the policeman was shot at first, investigation continues
Police predicted a „crime in action“
Mark Duggan had been attacked days before and a relative had been killed some time back, police assumed he was planning revenge
Officers from OperationTrident (investigates gun-crime in African-Caribbean communities) followeg Duggan's people carrier car from an address in Hackney & Leyton to Tottenhman where police decided to halt the car
Out of fear that he had a gun, armed officers from an elite firearm unit were involved in the operation
Investigation Results The IPCC's report of the shooting said M.D. Was first to shoot at the police but:
The firearm was not on him at the time of the shooting, it was found in the boot of the car, wrapped in a sock in a shoe box, his fingerprints were only found on the shoe box
The gun contained one bullet but evidence shows that it wasn't fired

Day 2: Reaction to Duggan's death
About 300 people (family, relatives and friends) call for „justice“
Upset by the shooting & resulting death
And misinformation & descrepancies between IPCC & Police reports
By demonstrating infront of the police station in Tottenham
After 3 hours(from 17:00) of waiting on Senior Officer who didn't show up, the protesters become violent
Patrol cars 200m away are attacked & 2 set on fire, shops are looted
A double decker bus & a shop are set alight

Spread of the Riots
Day 2, Sunday 7 August : Looting continues in Tottenham into the early hours and spreads to the nearby Tottenham Hale Retail Park. Riots start in Enfield in north London and Brixton in the south as well as other areas of the capital.
Day 3, Monday 8 August: It is calm in the morning but in the evening looting and violence erupt across the capital. Hackney is first,followed by other parts of London including Croydon. Trouble also flares in Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham.
Day 4, Tuesday 9 August: London is flooded with extra police(10,000) and remains calm but rioting and looting sweep through parts of north-west England and the Midlands. Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham
Day 5, Wednesday 10 August: London remains calm but looting and clashes with police continue in areas outside the capital. Hundreds are arrested in the capital and elsewhere as the clean-up continues

Deaths, Injuries and Losses
Total of 5 deaths
Over 100 fires were lit (public buildings, buses and homes)
48,000 local businesses suffered financial loss
Total loss is estimated at £100m

Reasons & Motives

  • Revenge For Mark Duggan's death
  • Frustration with unjust & unfair treatment

(being bullied, checked & arrested for no reason, impolite & disrespectful treatment, not treated as equals)
→ Government will be forced into a financial damage like the government cause
→ „I actually wanted to burn the cars and just see them burn cuz atleast from what I've been through in my life, the police has been hell for me.“

  • Take Control

Youth & minority groups felt their voices were unheard
People feel that the IPCC that is meant to investigate cases like Duggan's doesn't take them seriously and acts in favour of the police

  • Poverty & Unemployment (Haringey, Tottenham has an unemployment rate of 8.8%, double the national average
  • Opportunism

→ Looting = free material goods
→ „I wanted some money.“
→ „I felt like Christmas has come early, just being able to take all the nice things that you want. When yo get a chance to put your hands on things like that, it feels good.“
→ „I just went into a shop and it was already broken and I was like, „this is a cool jacket that I don't have, lemme take it.“

  • Link to tuition fee protests that started the year before
  • General dissatifaction with the government

Policies to cut public spending, tax raises etc in order to reduce debt (e.g. 13 youth group clubs were closed this year)
→ „I always thought to myself when I was on holiday: Well, this chance my never come again. I saw it as my opportunity to get revenge. It wasn't even to get the police, just the whole government, everything they do, they make things it harder for us. They make it harder for us to get jobs. Even when we get benefits, they cut it down people are trying to change their lives and go universities and you're raising up the prices. Some people can't afford university so they back to selling drugs and stuff and then you want to arrest them. You don't understand the reason why all these young people are acting like this. When really and truly you are the reason we are the way we are.“

The Rioters

A large number were under 18s
1/5 were between 10-17
About 1/3 were under between 18 -20
Only 315 of 1,715 defendants had so far been sentenced
Longer terms and harsher sentences e.g Violent disorder was 10.5 months compared to last year's 5.3 months
Aggravating circumstances of the riots also taken into account
Some offenders' benefits were cancelled or they were evicted from government funded housing
73% of all offenders had a criminal record but 45% of the juveniles had no criminal history

Aftermath: Political Effects

  • First Reaction: „This was no political protest or a riot about politcs. It was communal garden thieving, robbing and looting and we don't need an inquiry to tell us that.“
  • David Cameron also said tackling the „broken society“ was back at the top of his agenda

→ He will review all policies and intends to speed up plans to improve parenting and education
→ A „family test“ applied to all domestic polices to ensure that families were not torn apart
→ School discipline to teach personal responsibility

  • Prime Minister declares „An all out war on gangs and gang culture“

→ A gangs taskforce is set up let by Home Secretaty Theresa may and Work & Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith, a former police chief from the US as an adviser
→ Plans to give police more power to use gang injunctions for over 18s for children aswell

  • Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the PM of looking for "superficial answers" instead of lasting solutions.
  • Also other experts object

→ Riots are believed to have been organised by gangs through Blackberry Messages but experts argue
→ The events were too chaotic and uncoordinated to be organised and messages were more likely to be sent between friendship networks
→ Riots are rather an obstacle for (senior) gang
→ Gang rivalries dissolved, gangs worked together, united against the police


→ Riots revealed overall discontent of mostly young people with the government and its policies
→ They signified as PM himself said, „a wake up call for our country“ pointing to socio-economic issues that exist
→ Till now (Interviews by theguardian 5 December) 1/3 of the rioters said they would do it again, 4 out of 5 think the riots would happen again
→ As home secretary Theresa May warned there would be no „quick fixes“, it will require a lot of time and effort to solve these problems


  1. Overview of affected cities:
  1. Summary of events:
  1. Maps depicting how the riots spread:
  1. Causes:
  1. Experts' analysis of events:
  1. Video Documentary of participants (causes & motives from their perspective):