In response to the recent riots one punishment being suggested is the loss of social security and social housing for those convicted of rioting and looting. Whilst I like the idea and agree with those who suggested it I fear the problems it would create far outweigh the advantages. The social costs far outweigh the social benefits. In short we only have to look at the impact upon dependents, employment and future prospects that limit the usefulness of this policy.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, on the BBC called for “…looters to be evicted”. And in theory this is a great idea, but we often find crime circles around desperation, poverty and poor education.
The riots cannot be blamed solely on young, uneducated and poverty stricken individuals. In fact, we have seen people from across the employment spectrum appearing before the magistrates courts around the country ranging from students, mothers, school caretakers and teaching assistants – highlighting how the problem is not just about bored and uneducated youths.
The theme of evicting those convicted of rioting and looting is hard line and would definitely show the line taken by our government and security forces but there are a number of problems with it.
First of all, we often see a connection between poverty and crime. When people are desperate for something, usually something that makes them feel good, safe and secure they are more likely to commit crime in order to finance these things, whatever they may be. By evicting people we will be taking away that security of somewhere to live, making them more volatile in society.
Secondly, who do we evict? Just the individual(s) convicted or their families or housemates? The potential here is to further damage individuals’ lives and prospects especially children.
Thirdly, forcibly removing people from their homes could damage employment prospects. By moving someone out they may not be able to feasibly work in the same place and may have to move where work is less available. If this is the case then people will become even more dependent on the state for support and security.
Despite all of this, convicted rioters and looters should be punished in a way that hurts and affects them and I do agree with Pickles. What do you think should happen? Let us at the Young Political Bloggers know!