Tim Newburn seems to miss two key questions about Lord Scarman's imagined reaction to last year's riots (30 years after Brixton, what would Scarman think now?, 1 July). Would Scarman have repeated his analysis that the actions of the rioters in 1981, although criminal, were understandable as many young unemployed "believe with justification that violence, though wrong, is a very effective means of protest: for, by attracting the attention of the mass media of communication, they get their message across to the people as a whole"? Would Scarman have again stressed the "need to provide useful, gainful employment and suitable educational, recreational and leisure opportunities for young people, especially in the inner city"?

© Guardian News & Media Ltd

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