Neil Kinghan’s report in the looting at Clapham Junction (and elsewhere) was published today.

It is, by necessity, not an in-depth look into the riots, they causes and consequences, but instead a first look: trying to show what happened and draw out some key recommendations. And it is, by the nature of the process, a balanced report. Having undertaken similar sorts of work (although never into anything like August’s looting) I know exactly how hard it is to divine anything exhaustive or definitive when you are interviewing people on issues that will often are a matter of opinion and recollection and not hard fact.

Reading through the final report I can see where I probably complicated matters for Mr Kinghan, but, even so, other than small matters (for example, I recall seeing photos of a vandalised Starbucks fairly early on the evening of 8 August) there is nothing with which I particularly disagree and much with which I agree.

Communication comes across as one area that can be improved, in pretty much every direction. This even when Wandsworth, I think, has a pretty good track record in communication. The lesson, perhaps, is that it can always be improved.

One of the things that struck me soon after the 8 August, is how the public sector lagged far behind rioters and broom army when it came to communication. This is even despite similar tools already existing; I was Wandsworth’s sole Yammer (which is effectively a private Twitter) member for over two years until after the riots; since then membership has swollen to a mighty three users!

Business recovery is the area that most directly affects me, and we’re already looking at what we can do and the funds that are being made available. Here the trick is in successfully managing the transition from the immediate response – helping businesses recover from the aftermath – to a longer term plan that supports and develops local businesses.

It is very much a “watch this space” until plans are more fully developed.

The whole report is publicly available via the council’s website. It is not – and openly admits it isn’t – a conclusive or definitive report on the disorder, and many questions remain unanswered, but a fascinating first look at the issues around 8 August.

The council has started an independent review of last month’s disorder. Leaflets with details are going through doors as I write.

Neil Kinghan interviewed me yesterday; an interesting experience, not least because it forces you to think a little more objectively about something which has deeply affected the area. And I daresay it had something of a therapeutic affect, I think this is as much a healing as a learning process for many.

And even though we have moved quickly in setting up the review one of the things I have noticed, in myself and others, is a strange dilation of time. The riots seem a long time ago, a different age. I cannot say with certainty why that is. Possibly because they were so unusual, so markedly different from ‘ordinary’ events that they don’t really have a hook in the memory’s timeline. You remember Christmases for years, because they fit into a regular and familiar continuum – autumn, winter, panicked shopping, over-eating and over-drinking and then the cold reality of a new year. Not so a riot that came almost without warning, then just went, leaving surprisingly few lasting visible scars.

I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing. By the Tuesday I was already saying to people that we had to move on quickly; while we had to respond we also had to ensure we didn’t paint ourselves as poor victims, thereby further reducing confidence in the area and compounding the harm already done. But then, just moving on and returning to the pre-riot normal also implies losing that fantastic community spirit so apparent in the broom army and at Battersea Buzz. I’m very curious about what the turnout and mood of the public meetings will be…

If you want to take part in the review you can:

Attend a drop-in session where you can speak to Neil Kinghan on a one-to-one basis. These will be held on 12 and 13 September at Battersea Library at 3.30-5.30pm.

Attend one of the public meetings at Battersea Arts Centre (6.30-8.30pm 12 September), Samaj Hall, 26b Tooting High Street (6.30-8.30pm 13 September) or Wandsworth Civic Suite (7.00-9.00pm 19 September).

Online at

By email to

Via social media by marking your post ‘Commission’ at or using the hashtag #commission and tweeting @wandbc

Or by writing to Neil Kinghan, Room 148, Wandsworth Town Hall, London SW18 2PU.

Comments must be received by 19 September.