POLICE expect a repeat of last summer’s riots and are concerned about how budget cuts will affect their ability to deal with the unrest, according to a study.
The majority of police officers caught up in August’s unrest believe similar rioting is likely, with many citing worsening social and economic conditions as the potential cause, the survey found.
Officers also fear their forces do not have the resources to cope with unrest on a similar scale.
A total of 130 officers were interviewed as part of the Reading the Riots research led by the London School of Economics.
Most gave anonymous accounts of the riots which spread across London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford last summer.
Nearly all those interviewed described the unrest as the greatest physical and psychological challenge of their careers and officers of all ranks said they were astonished no colleagues were killed.
One superintendent from Greater Manchester Police said he expected more riots within the year.
When asked if rioting will happen again, he said: “I think if you have bad economic times, hot weather, some sort of an event that sets it off ... my answer is: yes, it could.
“Because I don’t think anything has changed between now and last August, and the only thing that’s different is people have thought: riots are fun.”
Police generally rejected criticism of the tactics deployed during the trouble, but admitted they were stretched to the limit by the scale and speed of rioting and left totally overwhelmed in places.
Victims, so-called vigilantes and lawyers who dealt with the aftermath in the courts were also quizzed.
The first tranche of research, published in December, was based on interviews with 270 rioters.