SAGE UK Riot Warning 2020, bus on fire in Hackney, London (VOA TV, 2011)

UK: SAGE Advisor’s Riot Warning #BLM

“Potential for Serious and Large Public Disorder” Warns Clifford Stott

As civil unrest turns into open insurrection in the US, the British Government’s SAGE advisor has issued a riot warning for the UK this summer.

Professor Clifford Stott said that urgent efforts are needed by police forces to prevent  violent unrest in the areas they serve and called for more “bobbies on the beat”.

A social psychologist at Keele University, Prof. Stott is a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which provides scientific and technical advice to support government decision makers during emergencies.

Mass job losses and rising unemployment due to the effects of COVID-19, coupled with Black Lives Matter demonstrations, could all contribute to rioting, Stott said.

Potential for serious and large public disorder to emerge this summer

Stott told the Press Association that “If the police don’t invest in building positive police-community relations now, there is a potential for serious and large public disorder to emerge this summer.”

Assaults on police officers leading to injury have already surged 27%, according to official reports.

Stott added that “I think in the worst case scenario it’s not inconceivable that we could have disorder on a scale equivalent to August 2011.”

The 2011 England riots, more widely known as the London Riots, were a series of riots between 6 and 11 August 2011, when thousands of people rioted in cities and towns across England, which saw looting, arson, and mass deployment of police, and resulted in the deaths of five people.

Like the Black Lives Matter civil unrest now taking place across the UK and USA, the 2011 riots were triggered by the death of a black man at the hands of the police. Protests started in Tottenham, London, following the death of Mark Duggan, a black man who was shot dead by police on 4 August 2011. A known criminal, Duggan was armed and attempting to evade arrest when he was shot. The subsequent public inquest found that Duggan was lawfully killed and this was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2017.

Civil unrest associated with the Black Lives Matter protests in the UK has already seen widespread violence, vandalism and the defacement and destruction of British monuments, including a statute of Winston Churchill.

High-level officials in the US, including US President Donald Trump, are now seeing the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist organisation.

“What we need to do,” said Stott, “is to make sure we start addressing the underlying causes now, so the conditions that led to the 2011 riots are not in place should we get a precipitating incident.”

The British Government report Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2014 revealled that 9% of all criminal proceedings and 8% of all convictions are of black people, although they only make up 2.8% of the UK population. The report also revealled that a greater proportion of black people at 7% are prosecuted for racial or religiously motivated crimes.

According to Stott, “the most effective thing that the police can do is put bobbies on the beat.”

A commentator on the Daily Mail website had his own warning: “Cities are going to be very unpleasant dangerous places, get out while you can.”


Sources: Daily Mail, Press Association, UK Government

Image: a bus on fire in Hackney, London, during the 2011 London Riots (VOA TV, 2011).