The ARMY may have to step in to assist police following fears that UK COVID-19 lockdowns could spark “London-style riots” as people become agitated about losing their freedoms.
The paper considered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) in July warns that serious public disorder could develop. The current “volatile and highly complex situation” means the UK will face “grave challenges” in maintaining public order, it said.
The academics warn that tensions resulting from the pandemic have become “inextricably bound” with structural inequalities and international events. They cited the Black Lives Matter movement that gained traction in May and early June after the death of George Floyd in the United States.
There is an increasing sense of “racial injustice, inequality and discrimination” felt among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the virus. At the same time, the authors say extreme right-wing groups are mobilising at a scale not seen for a decade, and exploiting fatal stabbing incidents in Reading, London and Glasgow.