Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Half of Arrested Looters Were Unable to Read or Write by the Age of 11

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Half of Arrested Looters Were Unable to Read or Write by the Age of 11

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

HALF of the juveniles arrested during the summer riots were educational failures who had not mastered the basics by the age of 11, the Government revealed today.

An official report shows that 48 per cent of young people arrested by police were unable to read or write properly by the time they left primary school. A total of 49 per cent could not do sums adequately.

Many young rioters are also "persistent absentees" from class, have special needs and come from poorer backgrounds in a further sign of how their lives have been blighted from their earliest years.

The findings come in the most comprehensive assessment so far of the backgrounds of the rioters. It also reveals that: * Four out of ten rioters arrested in London were unemployed and 28 per cent were students.

* 55 per cent of rioters charged in London were black or mixed race.

* Nearly one in five rioters in the capital were gang members.

* 93 per cent of riot suspects in London have been previously convicted or arrested.

Some of the most disturbing findings are those on the poor school performance of the rioters. Today's statistics show that only 11 per cent of young rioters left school with five or more "good" GCSEs, including English and maths.

More than one third of juvenile suspects had also been excluded from school during the past year, while their truancy rate was also more than three times higher than the national average.

Two-thirds of young people in the riots also had special educational needs compared with a fifth of all pupils. Two-fifths were in receipt of free school meals, more than double the national rate, in a sign of the young rioters deprived backgrounds.

For older rioters, today's figures, released by the Ministry of Justice, show that 55 per cent of riot suspects in London were black compared with 32 per cent white and seven per cent Asian.

Overall, taking into account their relative numbers in the population, that means that black Londoners were 10 times more likely to be charged over the riots than white residents. …

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