“Swift and tough justice” has resulted in prison sentences totalling more than 1,800 years being handed out to some 1,292 people in connection with last summer’s London riots described as “the worst public disorder for a generation”.

In an unprecedented show of deterrence, courts gave substantially higher sentences than are normally given for similar offences. At 16.8 months, the average custodial sentence was more than four times the normal tariff for public disorder offences, according to an analysis of figures released by the Ministry of Justice.

The riots, which started in the north London suburb of Tottenham on August 7 following the death of an Afro-Caribbean youth Mark Duggan in a police shoot-out, soon spread to other cities with television images of looting and arson beamed across the world.

Alison Saunders, chief prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service, called the riots as “the single biggest challenge” for the criminal justice system with courts working overnight to clear the backlog.

The CPS was still dealing with approximately ten riot-related cases a week, she said.

A year on, as the debate on the underlying social and economic factors behind the riots continued to rage,

Reece Davis, an African dancer jailed for looting, warned young people against getting involved in violence.

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