One in four predict repeat of riots

More than one in four young people believe that the riots seen last summer could be repeated this year, a survey has found.

It reveals that many youngsters say boredom, copycat behaviour, peer pressure, jealousy and fears about the future caused last year's scenes of disorder and violence, and that little has changed.

About three in ten of those questioned also said that the sentences and punishments handed out to those who took part in the riots were too soft.

The poll, commissioned by StreetChance and Barclays Spaces for Sports, asked just over 1,000 12 to 18-year-olds for their views of the riots which overshadowed the summer of 2011. The findings, which come a year after the violence broke out, show that more than a quarter (27.8%) believe that it could happen again this summer. Just over two-fifths (43%) were not sure and the rest did not think that there will be further outbreaks of unrest.

More than half of those surveyed said that the riots happened because young people were simply copying what they saw others doing and more than a third (37.5%) said youngsters got involved so that they could boast to their friends. A similar proportion (36.6%) thought that boredom among young people was a cause, with a fifth (20.4%) saying there was concern about the future and jealousy of other people's money and possessions.

A total of 13.8% thought that the actions of the police had led to young people rioting. Of those that said the police were a cause, two-fifths (40.3%) said it was because the police are seen as racist by young people. Similar proportions said that there is widespread distrust and dislike of the police by young people, and that they over-reacted to an incident.

Among those that predicted that there could be a repeat of last year's violence, the main reason given was that the chances of young people getting a job have either not improved or worsened. About two-fifths (43.2%) said that the riots could happen again because young people are as bored, or more so, than they were last year. On a positive note, half (51.4%) of the young people questioned said that an increase in free sporting facilities would help to prevent a repeat of the riots.

Wasim Khan, chief executive at the Cricket Foundation, said: "The fear among a quarter of young people of a repeat of the riots this summer is a cause for concern. Free sporting activities are just one measure that can help keep children out of trouble and thousands of children are now playing cricket, rather than playing up, as a result of StreetChance."

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "We are determined to see our young people given the best start in life. We have embarked on a billion-pound apprenticeship scheme, which includes wage incentives for 'youth unemployment hotspots' - and are going into the homes of 120,000 of the nation's most troubled families to address root causes.

"At this time we must also remember the acts of selfless kindness shown by the many people who stood up and joined the 'broom brigade', which were in stark contrast to the reckless criminal minority that perpetrated this disorder."