An Essex University researcher caught up in last month’s London riots believes politicians must carry at least part of the blame for the outbreak of criminality.

Dr Sarah Birch, a reader in politics at Essex University’s government department, walked into the path of a bus which had been set on fire after leaving a theatre in Hackney on August 8.

She said while she was not put in any danger by the rioters, her experience compelled her to look at her previous research to discover what motivated the rioters.

Dr Birch’s paper, co-authored with Dr Nick Allen from Royal Holloway, University of London, is the first test of claims made by politicians and commentators in the aftermath of the riots.

She said: “People who trusted Government were less likely to break the law.

“The conclusion we drew was that their trust in politicians would make them less likely to engage in the illegal activity that we observed in the riots.”