By any account, the riots that broke out were caused by something; even though everyone is not in harmony about what the exact cause was. Either way, the unrest leads to several problems that could be seen by urban conflict that occurred.
John Benyon is one person who tried to pinpoint the exact cause of the riots. He believed that the riots "were a consequence of the malfunctioning of the social system, of its inability to adapt to new demands, coupled with the growth of generalized beliefs which provided an account of why the system had failed and offered a new basis for reconstituted social action. These factors yielded a potential for collective violence: this became actual violence following the occurrence of a precipitator, some development which put discontent into a specific, and reinforcing, context, leading to a build-up of fear and antagonism which was eventually expressed in rioting"(Benyon). Benyon lays most of the blame on the crippling social system, and believes that it was the failure of this system that lead to the unrest that eventually broke out into violence and rioting. He likens riots to the idea of "mere hiccups which took place when social systems were unable to adjust", and believes that the riots also were to blame on the ethnic minorities which were living under these social conditions. Young black kids often found that they had to turn to lives of crime in areas such ads Brixton, due also in part to the lack of support from their families and the lack of needed work, both social conditions that lead to the unrest in these minority strong areas.
Scarman however, puts a strong emphasis on the part of the local police forces, which he claims were not doing their best to reduce the crime and unrest that was stirring in Brixton. The police found themselves in a dilemma he claims, a "policing dilemma in Lambeth stemming from, on the one hand, the duty of the police to prevent and detect crime, and on the other, the need to create and sustain good relations with the ethnic minorities (Scarman). Caught between this conflict of work and interest, the police force was not adept in their duties to keep the civil unrest from boiling over into the riots that soon ensued.
The police also suffered from many other criticism of how they handled the situation as it arose. The police has been accused of everything from racial prejudice, harassment, failure to stop crime, and many other accusations. Many people feel that the police area almost just as much to blame as everyone else involved in the riots, for as long as the police were not stopping the crime they were letting it expand unrestrained. Not acting against violence is just as bad as promoting it, and the inefficiency of the police force were just as responsible as the people doing the crimes. "Harassment does occur: and in Brixton even one isolated instance of misconduct can foster a whole region of rumors which rapidly become beliefs firmly held within the community", and it was this belief which became ingrained into the community. When people feel like they are being mistreated they will act like they are being mistreated, and this unrest can lead to violence and riots.
One of the main areas of unrest was Brixton, and many people have spent sufficient time trying to understand and get to the bottom of the problem as it started there. Previous to the unrest that broke out in the late 1900s, Brixton was a thriving centre of worldly goods and movement, and it was hard to tell of the civil unrest that would soon breed in the upcoming years. "Brixton was a lively and prosperous place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The railway gave it excellent access to the centre of London: business and professional people