The debate in the aftermath of the August riots could easily have left the impression that those involved were exclusively young, black gang members with long criminal histories.
The Reading the Riots study reveals that the makeup of those involved in the disorder was far more varied.
In some areas, government figures and the Reading the Riots data paint the same picture. MoJ figures revealed that, where ethnicity was recorded, 33% of those appearing in the courts on riot-related charges were white, 43% were black and 7% Asian. The figures varied significantly from area to area, often closely resembling the ethnic makeup of the local population: in London, 32% of defendants were white, in Merseyside, the figure was 79%.
Similarly, in the Guardian/LSE study, though a slightly larger proportion were from an ethnic minority (50% black, 5% Asian) or of mixed race (18%), this again varied significantly from area to area, with the ethnic makeup of interviewees in Salford and Manchester overwhelmingly white.