Between Saturday 6 August and Thursday 11 August 2011, thousands of people rioted in several London boroughs and in cities and towns across England. The resulting chaos generated looting, arson, and mass deployment of police; five people died.
Disturbances began on 6 August after a protest in Tottenham, north London, following the death of Mark Duggan, a local man who was shot dead by police on 4 August. Several violent clashes with police ensued, along with the destruction of police vehicles, a double-decker bus, and many civilian homes and businesses, thus rapidly gaining attention from the media. Overnight, looting took place in Tottenham Hale retail park and nearby Wood Green. The following days saw similar scenes in other parts of London, with the most rioting taking place in Hackney, Brixton, Walthamstow, Peckham, Enfield, Battersea, Croydon, Ealing, Barking, Woolwich, Lewisham and East Ham. From Monday 8 until Wednesday 10 August, other towns and cities in England including Birmingham, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Bristol, Lincoln, Manchester, and Salford, saw what was described by the media as "copycat violence". Social media sites including Facebook also featured rumours of further disturbances or details surrounding known disturbances which were later proven to be inaccurate; for instance there were rumours of disturbances in the town of Dudley and at the nearby Merry Hill Shopping Centre, but no incidents in these areas were detected by police. Rumours of a hospital being targeted by rioters in Birmingham were also proven to be wrong, as were rumours of disturbances in the Heath Town district of Wolverhampton, which had witnessed a serious riot more than 20 years earlier.
By 15 August, more than 3,000 arrests had been made across England, with more than 1,000 people issued with criminal charges for various offences related to the riots. Initially, courts sat for extended hours. There were a total 3,443 crimes across London linked to the disorder. Along with the five deaths, at least 16 others were injured as a direct result of related violent acts. An estimated £200 million worth of property damage was incurred, and local economic activity was significantly compromised.
The online video website YouTube was soon containing video footage of the riots, which had been recorded by witnesses and participants.
The riots have generated significant ongoing debate among political, social and academic figures about the causes and context in which they happened. Attributions for the rioters' behaviour include structural factors such as racism, classism, and economic decline, as well as cultural factors like criminality, hooliganism, breakdown of social morality, and gang culture.