Lambeth is Britain’s angriest borough? This survey pisses me off!

According to the British Association of Anger Management (BAAM), Lambeth is Britain’s angriest borough:

This half-baked piece of ‘research’ caused Guardian journalist Deborah Orr – a Lambeth resident for 25 years – to write a prominent piece on March 1st about her recent and personal experience of anger in the borough.

This ‘research’ is, of course, not what it first appears. For a start, it’s not primary research – it is some kind of mathematical calculation based on employment rates (not unemployment rates), crime statistics, etc. The inputs are purely subjective and so, therefore, are the results. I honestly can’t be bothered to waste time on a detailed critique of this publicity stunt posing as research. But just take a look at some of the measures that supposedly indicate for an ‘angry’ population:

  • % aged 65 and over who are satisfied with both neighbourhood and home
  • % who say their health is good or very good
  • % who feel informed about what to do in the event of a large-scale emergency
  • % who think that older people in their local area get the help and support they need to continue to live at home for as long as they need

Right, boiling down these sort of factors determines whether you’re angry or not? If indicative of anything, these should be used as a measure for quality of life. Many of these questions should not be used without strong caveats, or a very strong weighting – particularly that last one about elderly people staying at home. I suppose this bizarre ‘feel informed about what to do in the event of a large-scale emergency’ must be being used to indicate some kind of powerlessness – its inclusion is, in my view, spurious.

To be fair to BAAM, in the press release they talk about ‘triggers’ to anger, and also that Lambeth is the 19th most deprived borough in the UK – as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, these are mostly lifestyle and satifsfaction measures. I would also argue that the presence of triggers doesn’t necessarily mean an outcome.

However, the press release mentions the small fact that the survey hasn’t even been completed yet:

Early findings from the nationwide project suggest that London is the angriest city in
the UK, followed by Manchester. Birmingham is in third place, followed by Glasgow
and then Bristol.

So Lambeth might – on these non-measures – be the worst-performing borough in London, but the research only ‘suggests’ that London is the angriest city in the UK. Surely even a journalist might be able to see the flaw in this?

Towards the end of the press release, the real objective of the research becomes obvious. I lifted this from the document, bad grammar and punctuation included:

Mike Fisher, director of the British Association of Anger Management said BAAM data
showed that residents in the Capital were frightened by their inability to handle
feelings of stress and rage.
“I believe that issues such as crime, violence, domestic violence, road rage,
addiction, eating disorders, depression and many other mental health issues all stem
from our inability as a culture to handle or express our feelings, especially those of
Indeed, the fallout of the anger problem is so well recognised that governments in
countries including Australia, Canada and the USA fund anger management
programmes, he said.
“We want to move anger up the political agenda. It is the elephant in the room at the
moment, costing the NHS billions in tackling its side effects. Violent incidents alone
cost the NHS £2.7bn a year.”

Oh, we wouldn’t be angling for government funding for our organisation would we, Mr Fisher? I’m sure your organisation does some really good work, but all you’ve done is piss me off with your flawed trawl of stats posing as ‘research’. As for the cost to the NHS – what about the cost of dangerously flawed research causing politicians to launch ill-conceived initiatives? And I’m not exactly happy with Deborah Orr from the Guardian falling for this shit either. Am I angry? You betcha!

And what qualifies me to pass judgement on this? I’m a qualified researcher.

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