No, the British riots aren't the product of "moral decline"

Second, these individuals did not simply have an individual problem. They had a family problem. This is a hard thing to say and I am of course aware that this, too, is a generalisation. But many of these people are from families that are profoundly dysfunctional, operating on completely different terms from the rest of society, middle class or poor.

Most of them are shaping up that way by the time they are in primary school or even in nursery. They then grow up in circumstances where their role models are drug dealers, pimps, people with knives and guns, people who will exploit them and abuse them but with whom they feel a belonging. Hence the gang culture that is so destructive.

This is a phenomenon of the late 20th century. You find it in virtually every developed nation. Breaking it down isn’t about general policy or traditional programmes of investment or treatment. The last government should take real pride in the reductions in inequality, the improvement in many inner-city schools and the big fall in overall crime. But none of these reaches this special group.

By the end of my time as prime minister, I concluded that the solution was specific and quite different from conventional policy. We had to be prepared to intervene literally family by family and at an early stage, even before any criminality had occurred. And we had to reform the laws around criminal justice, including on antisocial behaviour, organised crime and the treatment of persistent offenders.