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Please note that this research briefing was published in October 2011 and was not updated in November 2014.

This article provides a summary of the Ministry of Justice statistical updates produced throughout August and September on those brought before the courts, for offences relating to this public disorder. In October 2011 more detailed statistical publications were released relating to the offences committed and offenders prosecuted.

The article is part 3 of the Social Indicators Research Paper RP11/71 which includes an additional article on Initial proposals for new constituency boundaries.

Background to the riots

On August 4 Mark Duggan was fatally shot in Tottenham, by police officers who had stopped the car in which he was a passenger. On the evening of 6th August, following a peaceful protest march to a Tottenham police station, organised by the victim’s friends and family, the first outbreaks of public disorder occurred.

On 7th and 8th August there were further outbreaks of disorder, mainly across London, but also in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool. On 9th August, although the disorder in London had been largely been quelled there were further incidents outside the capital.

Statistical headlines

– 5,175 offences recorded by the police

– Almost 4,000 people arrested by early September

– By 12 October 1,984 suspects had faced prosecution with 686 offenders found guilty and 71 acquitted/dismissed.

– 551 sentences had been handed out and an immediate custodial sentence was given in 331

Recorded crimes

Between 6th and 11th August 2011 the police recorded 5,175 disorder-related offences. There were 5,112 offences recorded in the ten police force areas where disorder was most extensive. The remaining 65 offences were committed in nine police force areas.


The Home Office has collected arrest information from the ten police forces experiencing the most extensive disorder. By early September these forces had arrested almost 4,000 people. The majority of these arrests were made by the Metropolitan Police (62%), with West Midlands (16%) and Greater Manchester Police (8%) the next two largest.

Gang membership

In the immediate aftermath of the riots there was an assumption that much of the violence had been orchestrated by gangs. This was not backed up by the data with only 13% of those arrested nationally said to have a gang affiliation. The Home Office report discusses the issue of gang membership.

Foreign-national prisoners

Ministry of Justice figures on 9th September show that foreign-national prisoners came from 44 different countries. Three quarters of those countries had either one or two nationals in prison for riot-related offences.

Court data

By midday 12 October a total of 1,984 defendants had appeared at a Magistrates court for an initial hearing for a riot-related offence. Just over one half of those defendants awaiting a further court appearance, either for trial or sentence, had been remanded to custody.

Prison population

The remanding and sentencing to custody of people said to be involved in the riots has raised the prison population to record levels. On 30 September 2011 there were 846 offenders in prison for offences related to the public disorder.

Rioters claiming benefits

At midday on 28th September there were 1,344 people who had appeared before the courts, excluding those who had been found not guilty or whose case had been dismissed. In 78% of these cases a match was made with the DWP’s National Benefits Database.

Educational attainment

At midday on 28th September there were 465 10-17 year olds who had appeared before the courts. In 83% of these cases a match was made with the DfE’s National Pupil Database. Young riot suspects were more likely to be from deprived areas, have SEN, have poor attendance/behaviour records and have lower educational attainment.

Related document

– Statistical bulletin on the public disorder of 6th-9th August 2011, Ministry of Justice, October 2011

– An Overview of Recorded Crimes and Arrests Resulting from Disorder Events in August 2011, Home Office, October 2011

Documents to download

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