In the Media

Riot families' problems go back for generations, says report

PUBLISHED July 18, 2012

Their problems often dated back generations, with long histories of abuse and periods in care homes a common factor for both the children and their parents.

Officials found that the families realised they needed a "wake-up call", with threats of eviction or other action important in ensuring that they accept help.

These are some of the key findings from the first official analysis of troubled families from a unit set up by David Cameron to tackle the root causes of last summer's disturbances.

There are an estimated 120,000 problem families who are each being helped by specialist troubleshooters. Louise Casey, Tony Blair's former "respect tsar" who is leading the troubled families unit, said last night: "I am not making excuses for any family failing to send their kids to school or causing trouble in their community.

"However unless we really understand what it is about these families that means they behave in this way, we can't start to turn their lives around.

"It is clearer than ever to me now that we cannot go on allowing troubled families to fail their children; none of the parents I spoke to wanted their children to repeat a life of chaos and trouble, but often they couldn't see how to put things right by themselves - they needed practical and persistent help to do so."

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, added: "I welcome this report as an important part of that process as it provides a real insight into these families' dysfunctional lives. My civil servants are not just sitting in an office in Whitehall telling local authorities what to do but seeking to gain a true understanding of the challenges they face."

The research found that many of the problems were "entrenched" with "long-term cycles of suffering problems" often stretching back generations.

In interviews with the problem families, "family, its influence past and present, was the pervading subject of conversation," the report said. Under the Troubled Families programme, the Government pays local councils up to £4,000 for each troubled family whose lives are turned around.

The money is paid on results after reductions in truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour are shown, or parents return to work.

The £448 million programme is one of the Prime Minister's key schemes and involves seven different government departments.