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Two minute Today interview underlines rationality of Manchester's young looters

By Matthew Barrett
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This two-minute interview, which was on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, with a group of last night's young looters shows how their decision to go into Manchester and loot was rational and calculated.

  • The first line of defence against crime, the justice system, is not seen as sufficiently threatening to deter the youths. One of the group says this would be my first offence, "the prisons are over-crowded. What are they going to do? Give me an ASBO? I'll live with that."
  • The government has failed to keep order, according to the group. They agree that their motivation is partially that "the government aren't in control - because if they was we wouldn't be able to do it could we?".
  • The low rate of arrest of looters is then also brought up as an incentive to loot, with one youth saying "they failed, innit? How many people have they arrested really, though? Ten." He then says "I'm not really bothered. I'll keep doing this every day until I get caught."
  • The incentive to make money from their crime spree is clear: one of the youths says he has been looting because he didn't want to "miss the opportunity to get free stuff that's worth, like, loads of money". 
  • Powerless families are also shown to be a major factor in allowing the looting to take place. One youth admits to warning his family he was going to be present at the riots, and then describes a subsequent telephone conversation with a family member: "He said 'get home, you're in trouble' I said 'no' and just put the phone down. They can't get into town, they can't get me, and when I get home, nothing's going to happen to me, I'm not going to get grounded or shouted at. I might get shouted at but that's it, I'll live with it and keep doing it."


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