Why is it that those indicating the importance of understanding the underlying issues of the recent riots are vilified as apologists? Certainly the culprits of wanton vandalism, theft and murder need to be punished but unless there is an understanding of why it all happened the possibility of it being repeated remains. The cost, not to mention the devastating effect the criminal action, albeit by a very small minority has had on individuals’ lives, is enormous. Livelihoods and properties have been destroyed. Worst of all lives have been lost. The simplistic answer is to lock up all the rioters and throw away the key. Yet the prisons have the greatest number of people ‘residing at her Majesty’s pleasure’ than ever before – more than 85,000 in the UK at a cost of £40,000 per prisoner per year!

Punishment itself is no deterrent. Some say ‘prison works’ but does it? Certainly not if once incarcerated little or nothing is done to rehabilitate the inmates. If the United States were to execute one person on death row each and every day the gruesome task would take ten years to complete, yet crime figures remain high. Merely punishing people does not solve the problem. The criminals themselves may not fully understand their true motives for doing their crime, so they are likely to repeat it. It is not in society’s interest to allow the status quo to continue. Investment is needed in the provision of appropriate facilities and education to meet the needs of those who, at the moment, are unable or unwilling, for whatever reason, to help them. To do that, understanding is needed as to why such events happen.

Think of this on a personal level. We, ourselves, may be repeating an action or behaviour which isn’t in our own best interest. We will continue to do so until we have a realisation about how damaging it is to continue. In which case we may turn to someone with the expertise to help us come to the understanding we need and assist us to resolve the issue.

Like us society needs to realise there are aspects of its behaviour which are not in its own best interest.