After four days the riots seem now to have petered out. The disorder may happen again, perhaps this evening. We do not know. It is hard to predict civil disturbances, though few pundits are ever at a loss for why any riot happened, and how it can be stopped from happening again.

Indeed, partisan habits of thought are hard to break. Socio-economic determinists will always concentrate vaguely on the “underlying” causes, whilst the law-and-order brutalists will readily fantasise about calling out the army and deploying weaponry.

However, the emerging evidence does not seem to verify either determinist or brutalist approaches. Information on those being prosecuted indicates that the participants in the disorder came from a range of social and employment backgrounds. Some appear to have even been skilled responsible professionals. Similarly, the fact that the riots were ultimately dealt with by the police under their existing powers tends to undermine the latter-day General Jumbos who wanted to direct soldiers around our streets so as to police citizens.

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