Official figures show those arrested came from deprived backgrounds, striking a blow to theory that tackling gang culture is key to preventing repeat of disturbances Gangs did not play a pivotal role in the August riots, according to the latest official analysis of those arrested during the disturbances. The official figures show that 13% of those arrested in the riots have been identified as gang members, rising to 19% in London, but the analysis shows that even where the police identified gang members being present most forces believe they did not play a pivotal role. The finding by senior Whitehall officials is a blow to the principal response to the riots being pushed strongly by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith ? that tackling gang culture is key to preventing any repeat of the disturbances. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Home Office background analysis shows that those arrested during the riots overwhelmingly came from deprived areas and had the poorest educational backgrounds. More than two-thirds of the young people involved were classed as having special educational needs and one-third had been excluded from school in the past year. More than 42% got free school meals. The analysis shows that the ethnic backgrounds of those brought before the courts for riot-related offences were in line with the local population, with 42% of defendants white and 46% black. Only 7% were Asian. But the ethnic composition of court defendants was significantly different from the local area profile in three places: Haringey in north London, where 55% of defendants were black compared with 17% of young people locally; Nottingham, where 62% of defendants were black compared with 9% locally; and Birmingham, where 46% of defendants were black compared with 9% of young people locally. The Home Office figures were based on 5,175 crimes recorded across 19 police forces ? the vast majority in London, Manchester and Birmingham. More than 40% happened within town or city centres and 20% within shopping malls or other "defined retail cores" in the town centres. Half the crimes were committed against commercial premises. A total of 2,584 shops and other commercial premises were targeted in the riots. The MoJ figures confirm that 90% of those arrested in the riots were male. More than half were under 20. They also confirm the more punitive nature of the courts, with 42% of those tried in magistrates courts sent to prison compared with only 12% normally. UK riots Gangs Communities Young people Crime London Manchester Nottingham Birmingham Alan Travis guardian.co.uk © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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