This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Cantle report, the government-backed inquiry into the causes of the riots that rocked Oldham in May 2001, followed by unrest in Bradford and Burnley in June and July.
The report warned that different ethnic groups were leading parallel and polarised lives, and that this social segregation was undermining people’s sense of belonging within their communities.
A decade on, and sadly many of the lessons of those riots have yet to be learned. In fact, I believe the cracks in our communities have grown. Not only has Britain become a more ethnically segmented nation as immigration has continued to rise, but also the growing income and lifestyle gap between rich and poor has undermined the sense that there is such a thing as a common British life. The independent Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, set up following the summer riots of 2011, corroborated that sorry fact. It found that seven in 10 of the riots that year broke out within the 10% of communities ranked as the least socially cohesive, illustrating that it is not only an issue of ethnicity but of class too.