Riots could break out in the UK this summer if the effects of the coronavirus pandemic occur, warns a government scientific advisor.
Professor Clifford Stott said there would be a risk of disorder on a scale last seen during the London riots in August 2011 – fueled by the police shooting at Mark Duggan – if troops fail to make urgent efforts to investigate potential suppress unrest in the neighborhoods they serve.
The member of the behavioral subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) said that massive job losses and rising unemployment due to the coronavirus, as well as concerns about racial and economic inequalities, could all be “confrontations” in the coming months.
A potential divide between poorer and more prosperous areas due to local closures – if any – could also have an effect, warned the professor of social psychology at Keele University, who advised the Home Office on the public policy strategy.
During an interview with PA news agency, he said in a personal capacity: “If the police do not invest in building positive relationships between the police and the community now, a serious and serious public disorder may arise this summer.
“I think in the worst case it is not inconceivable that we could have a disorder on a scale equal to August 2011.
“What we need to do is make sure we start addressing the root causes now so that the conditions that led to the 2011 riots are not present should we have an accelerated incident.
“Simply put, the most effective thing the police can do is put bobbies to the rhythm.”
Conditions in the UK will change “significantly” in the coming months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, said Prof. Stott. He adds, “There are important problems with inequality that, if not properly addressed, can contribute to a future situation in the summer months where confrontations arise.”
Local localizations can become “very, very problematic” for police officers if the rules mean that people living in poorer areas are more likely to face more severe restrictions than those living in affluent neighborhoods, he said.
Enforcement has generally become “virtually impossible now to a great extent” as the locking measures are simplified, except for large-scale public gatherings, the professor said.
The danger, he warned, is that some of the meetings are “likely” likely to be groups of young men on working-class estates who could then attract more police attention, adding, “I think This can create a circumstance when many young men find it unfair about what is happening to them.
“And if the police try to enforce that dishonesty, it could cause a disturbance in social cohesion, which could lead to a sense of dishonesty in the police.
“We know that these factors are often the drivers of social conflict.”
Growing concern over the ‘disproportionate’ use of Tasers against black people and people with mental health problems brought up by the police watchdog last month when they investigated a series of incidents could also risk becoming a trigger for unrest said Prof. Stott.
An increase in Covid-19 transmission rates, bringing the country back to a closed state when people are “significantly economically disadvantaged,” may also “widen disagreements about people’s living conditions,” he added.
When asked whether the allegations about Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, lifting the lockdown could contribute to unrest, Prof. Stott said, “We are in a really, really crucial time and the loss of confidence and self-confidence caused by the Cummings affair has not helped maintain that adherence, I think that’s very clear. “
Essex Chief of Police, Ben-Julian Harrington, who heads the work of the National Police Chiefs’ Council on public order and security, said, “Police work within communities to tackle crime and solve problems – based on conversations and active involvement.
“When there are tensions, we work with communities to address concerns and respond sensitively. This will continue as restrictions continue to ease over the summer.
“We are also well prepared to respond to any increases in crime or disorder.”