ACADEMICS were blasted last night over claims that “community spirit” helped inflame the 2011 London riots.
Psychologists said rival street gangs joined forces against police as violence spread, killing five people and causing some £200million damage to property.
Euphoria produced by the show of unity contributed to the disorder, say the scientists, who viewed videos, police reports and interviewed rioters.
Dr John Drury from the University of Sussex studied early rioting in Harringay and Tottenham Hale, North London.
He said: “It saw traditional postcode rivalries melt away in the face of a common enemy in the police. There was actually a new identity — a new collective sense of self among rioters. That matters.”
Dr Drury said the research was being shared with police forces and councils, who he hoped would “take stock”.
But critics last night slammed the claims and Tory MP Peter Bone, 64, told The Sun: “This was the complete opposite of ‘community spirit’.”
He added: “I think that’s a very poor use of language. It was violence and rioting and it was totally unacceptable.
“The idea that it was somehow ‘community’ is nonsense.”
Rioting started in August 2011 after a suspected gang member was shot by police in Tottenham.
Disorder followed in areas including Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester.