Hearing about these London riots is dismaying, largely because rioting is sort of OUR schtick. The British are supposed to be tea and crumpets and jolly good show and Mrs. Minniver! Sadly, our image of them as more civilized and cultured than us has been a long story of lies perpetuated by Masterpiece Theater. Brits have soccer thugs and "chavs" and various hooligans roaming their fair city, wrecking things and it is up to local shopkeepers to defend their stores from the brutes. The police, sadly, are overwhelmed, most likely because it's hard to hit a rioter with a truncheon while not spilling your fish and chips.
As to the question of the underlying causes of the rioting, I think we're missing an important point, which is who freaking cares? There's often an excuse to protest, or an excuse to engage in some sort of civil disobedience--though since Gandhi made it popular a lot of two-bit protest groups have really beaten that horse to death. But at least they're not looting and burning and killing the way these thugs are.
Just one suggestion for the police--shoot all the rioters. Future gene pools will thank you.