This morning I am particularly proud to be the Mayor of Tower Hamlets. I am heartened that our local young people have not, for the most part, got involved in these destructive events. I witnessed first hand a heroic effort by local people, local police and our youth services to ensure that our borough stayed united. To all those that contributed to keeping our borough safe at this difficult and worrying moment, I want to say from the bottom of my heart; thank you.
I offer my sincere condolences to the Duggan family for their loss. There must be a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Duggan’s death.
This violence is totally unacceptable. We cannot allow a situation where ordinary people are petrified to walk down their streets, where business are looted and destroyed, where police officers are assaulted and abused.
Since the news came through yesterday afternoon that rioting and disorder was spreading from Tottenham to Stratford to Tower Hamlets, I have been on the streets working with young people, faith leaders, council colleagues, community workers, police officers and residents, to keep the peace.
We had our anxious moments; there were bouts of violence and destruction on Bethnal Green Road, the Isle of Dogs and elsewhere, but overall, our borough witnessed nothing like the scenes that scarred other parts of London.
This is testimony to the strength of community cohesion in the borough and the selfless dedication of many individuals across the community.
We are one community, one Tower Hamlets; and it is the responsibility of all us as neighbours to look after each other, our local area and our services.
We are not complacent. It is possible rioting and disorder could erupt tonight or later in the week. We will continue to work around the clock with community leaders and the police to ensure we keep peace on our streets. As your Mayor I urge everyone to do their bit to help in this process.
We do not yet know all the facts behind the outbreak of these disturbances. Much of it is being driven by sheer criminality. But even if that is the case, we must ask ourselves what is it about our society that so many young people can engage in such behaviour, apparently indifferent to the consequences?
I believe when full investigations are carried out one of the factors identified will be a sense of anger among young people that they have been forgotten.
Government cuts are hitting our youth the hardest. Youth unemployment is rising, while youth services are being destroyed. That situation is compounded by the cuts to community policing being forced through by the government.
I am proud that while other authorities are slashing investment in youth services we are protecting ours. We must give our young a greater sense of hope about their future; we must deliver jobs for local young people, guarantee decent wages, increasing community policing, and showing that they have a future ahead of them that is not worth throwing away.