Tom Whitehead, Telegraph (London), October 24, 2011
More than half of those charged with offences were from a black or ethnic minority background, compared with 42 per cent who were white, the Ministry of Justice figures showed.
In some areas of the country the proportion of black rioters were more than five times the local population.
In the most detailed breakdown yet of the disturbances, it also emerged that more than a third of youngsters involved had been excluded from school in the previous year.
One in three adults were claiming unemployment benefits, compared with a 12 per cent national average, and 160 rioters were in receipt of disability or incapacity allowances.
The scale of offending was also revealed for the first time as figures showed more than 2,500 shops and businesses were targeted and one in eight crimes were street muggings or other offences against individuals.
However, fears that gangs had spearheaded the disturbances were dismissed as the analysis showed only 13 per cent of offenders belonged to one.
In terms of ethnicity, 46 per cent of those appearing in court were from black or mixed black backgrounds, 42 per cent were white and seven per cent were Asian.
In Haringey, north London, Nottingham, and Birmingham–three key scenes of the disturbances–the proportion of those brought before the courts over the riots who were white was significantly lower, and those from a black and mixed black background significantly higher, than the proportion in the resident population.
In general, those involved in the looting and violence which swept through English cities in August were younger, poorer, involved in more trouble and achieved lower grades than average, detailed analysis of the histories of those charged over the disturbances showed.
Some two-fifths of youngsters were in receipt of free school meals, compared with less than a fifth on average, and two-thirds had special educational needs, compared with the average of a fifth of all pupils, the figures showed.
Last month, Education Secretary Michael Gove admitted the riots had shown an “educational underclass”.
But gang membership, which Iain Duncan Smith blamed earlier this month for playing a “significant part” in the riots, was not considered pivotal by most forces, officials said.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said the riots were a “wake-up call” which showed “containing” the underclass had failed.