Outnumbered police feared for their lives during last summer’s riots

An in-depth study into the experiences of police officers caught up in last summer’s riots, revealed they were vastly outnumbered, leaving many to fear for their lives.

Some 130 officers were interviewed for the study, Reading The Riots, which was conducted by the London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper.

Their accounts revealed senior officers were astonished no police died during the unrest, which saw four consecutive nights of looting and arson around the country.

Officers of all ranks were shocked and surprised by the extent and nature of the violence directed at them, as well as the speed with which it escalated.

Many of them described it as the “greatest physical and psychological challenge” of their careers.

Many officers from all ranks expect a repeat of the riots, and are concerned they may not have the resources to cope with future unrest on such a scale.

The riots broke out in Tottenham on August 6, two days after the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, and two days later the unrest spread south to Hackney, before reaching other parts of London and the UK.

Most Read

Five people died and more than 4,000 suspects have since been arrested.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter