THE BISHOP of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price, has
warned that the country faces more episodes of violent disorder
similar to that which hit the nation in August last year (
News, 12 August).
In an address to the General Synod on Sunday afternoon, Bishop
Price warned that the Government's austerity measures had social
consequences, which were having a disproportionate impact on the
He said that he recognised that the Chancellor of the Exchequer
was under immense pressure from financial markets and
credit-reference agencies; and it was "perfectly possible to
empathise" with him while at the same time "sound a clear warning
note about the social consequences of austerity measures which hit
the most vulnerable hardest and leave the very rich unscathed. When
the nation tightens its belt, inevitably the least resilient are
those who suffer most."
But he denied being "sentimental" about those who "took to the
streets last August and destroyed property, ruined other people's
lives, and walked off with looted trophies. Riots embody appalling
evil and criminality, and those who get drawn in often display
He continued: "The tragedy of our times is that we have a large
population of young people who are desperate to escape from the
constrained lives to which they seem to be condemned. Where hope
has been killed off, and with no prospect of escape, is it
surprising that their energies erupt in antisocial and violent
Bishop Price warned that similar outbreaks of disorder might
happen "this summer, or next, or the summer after", and that the
Church needed to learn quickly and thoroughly from the churches who
were caught up in last year's events.
"Pray God that there will be no such repeated trouble. But make
no mistake: social tensions will not go away, and hopelessness in
our communities is something we are all called on to address,
preferably before the cauldron bubbles over."
Bishop Price made his comments in a speech presenting
theTesting the Bridges report on the Church's
response to the outbreak of violent disorder (
News, 22 June).