Young women, the state and public order in Britain, as seen in clippings from the newspapers, August 2011: Natasha Reid, 24, pleaded guilty to stealing a television from a Comet in North London during the riots of 7 August. Her mother said she was ‘baffled’ by her own behaviour – she had a much nicer TV set at home. Shonola Smith, 22, pleaded guilty, along with her sister and a friend, to ‘entering’ Argos in Croydon: ‘The tragedy is that you are all of previous good character,’ the judge said, as he sentenced them to six months each. Chelsea Ives, the 18-year-old ‘shamed former Olympic youth ambassador’ shopped by her mother, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and burglary on the Sunday, and to violent disorder (a Somerfield in Hackney) the following evening. ‘The public seem to automatically place me in an unnamed category for thick, low-life individuals, which is not me at all,’ Chelsea wrote ‘from behind bars’ in a letter intended for the novelist Gillian Slovo, but which the Evening Standard used as an occasion to run her big-hair camera-phone-in-the-mirror Facebook picture yet again. She began a two-year jail sentence this month.
LRB 15 December 2011 | PDF Download