February 24, 2009
The widespread fear of serious unrest was disclosed as a senior police officer warned activists were planning unrest and could find rioters easier to recruit because of the credit crunch.
Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan Police’s public order branch, said known activists were planning a return to the streets centred on April’s G20 summit of world leaders in London.
And intelligence shows they may be able to call on more “footsoldiers” than normal due to the unprecedented conditions – which have led to youth violence in Greece and mass protests elsewhere in Europe.
YouGov polling for Prospect magazine found 37% thought such “serious social unrest in several British cities” was certain or likely – although a slim majority (51%) disagreed.
Almost three quarters (73%) said they feared a sustained return to mass unemployment.
And a clear majority (64%) also favoured forcing the under-25s to do a year of full-time, modestly-paid community service such as working with the sick and elderly or helping with environmental projects.