As we emerge from what was thankfully another quiet night in the Bush, and also across the Capital, questions will inevitably now start to be asked about why such large numbers of young people thought it was either a good idea or just plain OK to rampage through our communities smashing their way into shops, in the main.
Nothing can excuse the criminality and outright violence that was on display from the hardcore of the mobs, including those who either attacked passers by or the police officers who at times were quite obviously outnumbered and unable to control the situation.
But there are surely legitimate questions to be asked about the coincidence of the violence with the cuts that have been made recently to youth and outreach services of various kinds, meaning that centres to which young people used to be able to go have now closed or are closing their doors. One such place to have had it's funding slashed is the Masbro Centre in Shepherd's Bush, which is a unique service in W12 that doesn't just work with 12-19 year olds, of whom it has 200 active local members, including running an employment advice service, but also tries to reach out, for example, to absent dads in prison and other groups for whom there is still a hope that they can turn their lives around.
Our Council, the Masbro Centre tell me, have decided to cut their funding by £44,800 a year, resulting in their lowest ever settlement. Chief Executive Andy Sharpe says this:
"We had two good applications promoting a social enterprise children entertainment agency - Masbro Events incorporated and working with absent dads in prisons. While some new groups were funded the overall level of funding to the third sector is downwith a disturbing million pounds of third sector funding held in reserve as potential medium term financial strategy saving."In other words instead of investing in these services, when we so clearly need them, our Council has decided to sit on the money instead. And you can't just cut budgets without losing services.
I wonder if councillors will now reflect on the wisdom of doing this to our local youth services.
Just as the Home Secretary may also wish to dwell on her argument that she could slash police pay, pensions and numbers in the middle of the biggest recession Britain has known for a long time without there being any consequences on the streets.
Time to step up to the plate, politicians.
0900 UPDATE - Boris Johnson, to his credit, has done just that this morning by announcing that he thinks the Government has got it totally wrong over slashing police numbers. So, have our Council also had a conversion, and will they now reverse the cuts they have imposed to local Safer Neighbourhood Teams? And will there also now be a rethink about cuts to youth services too? I think we should be told...so I shall ask Greg Smith, the Cabinet Member responsible
1000 UPDATE - And with credit to Cllr Smith, he has responded very quickly indeed. I should say he completely disagrees with the link I have made between Council decisions on funding and reductions in the Police - that is a Police matter according to Cllr Smith. I'm not sure I agree but here's what he had to say:
Irrespective of my disagreement with Cllr Smith he does deserve credit locally for having done a number of things with and for the Police that have actively improved Shepherd's Bush, most notably the crack down on street drinking. I was reminded of the need for that after I was shouted at by a drunk on the way to the gym this morning! He is also a very, er, down to earth kind of guy."The Council has not imposed any cuts on Safer Neighbourhood Teams. The provision of Police Officers is actually nothing to do with councils, and entirely to do with the MPA and Home Office. It is because we recognise that fighting crime is a top priority for residents that we have got into the business of spending extra on policing – with our £1.3 million town centre enhanced policing teams, putting 46 EXTRA officers into the borough (who are now all warranted, ie no PCSOs). The reduction of four SNT Sergeants is a Metropolitan Police decision".
"Regarding Boris' call – if there is a way for the Government to increase police numbers in a way that does not distract from eliminating the national deficit and restoring our economy, then of course I'd support that. But they can't just magic up money that we don't have – that's what got us into such an economic mess in the first place".
1700 TUESDAY UPDATE - The Council seem to be genuinely angry with what Masbro Centre Chief Executive Andy Sharpe has had to say. They describe his claims, particularly that the Council has held back £1 million in voluntary sector funding, as mistaken - with a Council spokesperson telling me this afternoon:
"The council has not held £1m back in reserve at all. In fact that figure is only £250,000 and the money will be spent on responding to emerging needs. Therefore, this is not a cut and it would be inaccurate for you to describe it as one".He added:
"You may also wish to know that H&F's grants pot for the voluntary sector stands at £3.9 million. H&F is one of the most generous boroughs in London in terms of voluntary sector budgets. The council spends £23 per head of population before the huge voluntary sector commissioning budgets are taken into account".I often get calls from people disputing what one or the other has said on here, its par for the course which is why I try and give everyone a right of reply - but it is clear to me that there is real anger at the Town Hall about this particular claim. I would hope Masbro have made sure that they really have got their claim about £1 million being held in reserve right - if they haven't, and the Council seem adamant that it is wrong, the right thing to do would be to hold their hands up and say sorry.
1330 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - Well it seems Masbro are equally clear that it's the Council who are in the wrong. They have posted two statements in the comments section of this article, of which the most direct is the following, in response to what the Council had to say:
"We are not withdrawing the claim.
The Cabinet Report 18th July makes it plain as day that over £1 million of third sector funding has been left unallocated from Oct 2011 to Sept 2015 and could be used as potential savings. For instance for the next funding year Oct 11 to Sept 11 £200,581 has been unallocated. If LBH&F wanted to restore Masbro £45,000 reduction in grants this could be done out of this funding pot. We could mutual agree some worthwhile outcomes on what the money is spent on for the benefit of residents in Hammersmith and Fulham. We hope the Council will take up this offer".