Britons are trying to understand what would cause people to riot. It hardly seems to be about police relations (that choice old political excuse everywhere) or even government budget cutbacks. All kinds of people joined in. Unlike justifiable protests in Syria, for example, these demonstrations were opportunistic and cynical.
What the Cameron government proposes to do, inter alia, is punish those convicted rioters who are on the dole by slashing their benefits. That will show them! The Government also is going to look at other programs of the state that might be leveraged to encourage lawfulness.
How about looking at the materialism of English culture that has been cut off from religious roots and is mired in consumerism? Materialism of the philosophical and scientific sort--the sort advanced by Richard Dawkins and celebrated on the BBC and the pages of British papers and magazines--is echoed in the consumerism promoted on TV and the Internet, on bus cards and billboards. If there is nothing to life but one's possessions and no morality but what one wants and can get away with, why not take a jolly good chance to loot?
Vancouver, BC recently was humiliated by burning and looting after the season's hockey championship game. Vancouver lost to Boston that night, but even if it had won, anarchists and looters were prepared for action. They gleefully took advantage.
The void is not in the law, but in the culture. The morally disabled are trying to fill the hole in their lives--with action and things. Did people riot like this 100 years ago?