The first anniversary of the riots coincides with another event worth noting – the end of payments made under the Educational Maintenance Allowance.
Although the withdrawal of the allowance, paid to students aged 16 to 19, was cited by some commentators as the cause of the disturbances, the cash was paid out until the end of the academic year which has just ended.
Indeed, while pilot schemes for the allowance, widely known as EMA, began in 1999, the national rollout did not begin until September 2004. In most parts of the country, nobody over the age of 27 today has ever received it.
Attempts to blame the announcement that EMA would be abolished for the riots illustrates a tendency which was visible almost from the moment the riots began, as people attempted to explain what was happening by claiming it validated their personal political views.
The London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper conducted a survey in which rioters were asked for their own explanation.
Of the explanations offered to them by researchers, the most popular option picked by rioters was poverty, with 86 per cent calling this an “important” or “very important” cause of the riots.
In second place was policing, cited by 85 per cent of respondents (rioters were invited to give as many different reasons as they liked).
Perhaps most remarkable, 70 per cent of those surveyed – despite being offered a menu of social problems to blame their behaviour on – said that simple greed had been an “important” or “very important” factor in the riots, which often looked more than organised shoplifting.
Despite this, the Guardian ran a series of reports breathlessly blaming the whole thing on the police and their supposed poor treatment of young people.
Amid the horror of the events last year, when three men were killed and a gang armed with firearms apparently set a trap for West Midlands Police at an Aston pub, there were moments when we saw humanity at its best.
There were the volunteers who turned up in Birmingham city centre to clean up the mess.
There was the dignity and desire for justice, rather than revenge, displayed by friends and family of three men killed in Dudley Road.
There was also the desire of so many younger people, from a range of backgrounds, to make it clear that they did not endorse violence or theft, even if their lives were difficult.
Their views were largely ignored by those who sought to romanticise the riots as an uprising against poverty or oppression.
That doesn’t mean that the inequality that exists in the UK and the West Midlands is unimportant.
How to ensure every young person receives a high quality education, the encouragement they need to succeed and the prospect of a job at the end of it all, are most important questions facing society – whether the riots were anything to do with them or not.