The total cost of the two days of rioting which swept the West Midlands in August could surpass £25 million for the region's police and businesses.
More than 340 claims – totalling £5.4 million – have been made to West Midlands Police Authority under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 over vandalism and theft as yobs smashed up shops and stole valuables during unprecedented scenes of looting.
A Government U-turn means the Home Office has only agreed to cover uninsured losses estimated at £253,861, leaving the Authority to find the remaining cash.
And a report this week to the Authority revealed it was forced to spend £50,000 to bring in external loss adjusters to “advise on certain higher value and/or complex claims”.
The bill comes at a time West Midlands Police has to find £126 million in savings over four years as part of Government budget cuts that will see the loss of about 2,200 members of staff.
West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims has already estimated the final bill for restoring order and bringing the perpetrators to justice could hit £12 million.
That includes the cost of policing the riots and the three investigations that have followed; identifying rioters who trashed shops across the region; catching those behind the deaths of Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shahzad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, who were run down in Winson Green; and the shooting at police officers outside the Bartons Arms pub, Newtown.
Meanwhile, business leaders have already predicted the riots in Birmingham alone cost firms at least £7 million in lost takings after the city was turned into a “ghost town” abandoned by shoppers and diners too scared to leave their homes.
Together, it means the two days of trouble is estimated to have cost close to £25 million.
However, the true cost could be higher as some businesses said they had taken far more than a 50 per cent hit after diners and shoppers completely abandoned the city centre and surrounding areas because of violent scenes.
Some businesses said it took longer than they expected for shoppers to return in the normal numbers.
Meanwhile, national research found that more than a third of youngsters involved in this summer’s riots had been excluded from school at some point in the last year.
Those involved in the looting and violence which swept through English cities in August were younger, poorer, involved in more trouble and achieved lower grades than average, the detailed analysis of the histories of those charged over the disturbances showed.
But gangs “generally did not play a pivotal role”, officials said.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures also revealed three in ten were persistent absentees from school, compared with less than one in 20 of all pupils in secondary schools run by local authorities, backing the assertion by Education Secretary Michael Gove last month that the riots had shown an “educational underclass”.
“For all the advances we have made, and are making in education, we still every year allow thousands more children to join an educational underclass – they are the lost souls our school system has failed,” he said.
“These are young people who, whatever the material circumstances which surround them, grow up in the direst poverty – with a poverty of ambition, a poverty of discipline, a poverty of soul.”
The MoJ statistical bulletin found that of defendants brought before the courts in Birmingham, 46 per cent were from a black background, 33 per cent from a white background and 15 per cent from and Asian background.
West Midlands Police Authority was meeting on Thursday to hear the latest update from senior officers about the issues arising from the disturbances and lessons learned.
Police Authority Chair Derek Webley said: “It is vital that we fully understand the causes of and repercussions from August’s disturbances, so that we can learn lessons.
"We need to do this openly and transparently, making sure that the West Midlands’ public can see what steps we are taking.”
The meeting will also discuss the claims made under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886.
Under the Act, West Midlands Police Authority is liable to pay for riot-damaged buildings and their contents.
A report to the Authority stated it would need to make a formal application for reimbursement from the Government and “demonstrate the impact of such costs on the overall financial position”.
“In other words there is no guarantee that the cost of these claims will be reimbursed,” the report added.