Andre Lopez-Turner: Sit the disenfranchised down and ask them what they want

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The reluctance of the police to speak to a man they shot in Tottenham is seen as the trigger for the London riots but I think it's important to look at what's going on under the surface.

In the world of therapy we often think someone's behaviour reflects their inner world. Those who steal and loot may be feeling materially and spiritually empty, thus they need to fill their emptiness up. Those who break and destroy things may be feeling broken and destroyed.

As a group-work therapist working in some of London's most deprived boroughs I see this every day. The young and not so young, the drug users and the alcoholics, some of whom feed their addictions through criminality, sit in a circle and try to build a relationship with themselves, others and the society they live in.

Most people who land here have relationships only with drugs and alcohol.

Patrick and I were facilitating groups for repeat criminal offenders in the Boroughs of Hounslow, Southhall and Ealing. Their drugs of choice being crack cocaine for the "buzz, the feelings of confidence", and heroin "for the comedown, for the pain of reality".

The people I see on a daily basis have an unhealthy relationship with an object, themselves and their surrounds. Seventy per cent of them are dyslexic, many live in temporary accommodation, most live on benefits.

"I would like to live a normal life, go to college, get a job, have a wife and kids," is the answer I hear the most when I ask what they want out of life. I presume it's what our political classes, community and business leaders also want for them, and for society.

One night this week I stood outside a friend's restaurant in Camden Town. Young people and a smattering of older people were throwing whatever they could at the police. I asked a couple of men why they were here.

"No jobs for us, lots of stop and searches on us, then there's the student loans," said one.

"F****** bankers' bonuses and they cut public services, f*** em," said another guy. "I don't give a f***, they don't." I asked this man if he was being real.

"Of course I care, but they don't care about us, where's the evidence," he said. They being the Government.

I remember David Cameron and his Conservative Party campaigning at the last election, calling "Britain broken."

Since coming to power he has increased the Value Added Tax on goods, a tax that hits the poorest the hardest.

He and his Liberal Democrat coalition have reduced the amount beneficiary recipients are paid, reduced funding to the community, charitable and voluntary sectors while promoting them via his "big society" agenda.

He has cut spending on health and the fire service and he is forcing the police to make a 20 per cent cut to its budget. Drug and alcohol centres and youth services have been dismantled or have faced cuts.

I recall my colleague Patrick's passionate belief in the breaking of denial when it came to addiction.

Are we in denial about the way our societies and world are being run? The banking community recently paid itself £14 billion in bonuses while cuts pay the debt the financial service heaped on the public to pay for its unregulated failure.

The banking industry and the financial industries remain unchanged and in disarray, the carbon polluters remain free to cook the earth, and the ruling classes call for punishment on the youth committing the crimes on London's streets.

Has anyone challenged the ruling and media classes, a group of people not unlike addicts, desiring more and more, avoiding their failures, avoiding the taking of responsibility, in denial and looking to blame others?

Has anyone sat the youth and the struggling middle classes down, listened to them and asked then how they feel?

I imagine the answer will be angry, hurt, smashed and destroyed.

* Andre Lopez-Turner is a criminal justice worker in drug and alcohol services in London

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