Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Police fear UK 'summer of rage'

Protest at Lindsey Oil Refinery
The Lindsey Oil Refinery foreign labour row spread across the UK

Police are preparing to face a "summer of rage" in the UK as people join protests over the economic downturn, says a senior Met Police officer.

"Known activists" were likely to foment unrest, with the recession creating more "footsoldiers" to join them, Supt David Hartshorn told the Guardian.

The G20 meeting in London in April is expected to be a focus of protests.

BBC home editor Mark Easton said signs of anger would "not necessarily translate into action on the streets".

Supt Hartshorn is regularly briefed on potential civil unrest, as head of Scotland Yard's public order branch.

The officer said that the established activists "would be good at motivating people, but they haven't had the 'footsoldiers' to actually carry out [protests].

"Obviously the downturn in the economy, unemployment, repossessions, changes that. Suddenly there is the opportunity for people to mass protest."

The upcoming meeting of the G20 in London in April has been selected by some activists as a focus for anger
Mark Easton
BBC home editor

He added: "We've got G20 coming and I think that is being advertised on some of the sites as the highlight of what they see as a 'summer of rage'."

The G20 meeting will bring together leading industrial powers and emerging market nations.

Supt Hartshorn also said that banks, particularly those that paid large bonuses despite receiving billions of pounds of taxpayers' money, had become "viable targets" for protesters.

But our home editor said "activity on websites does not necessarily translate into action on the streets".

"With the entire economy at grave risk, it is unclear whether anger at the failures of banks, other financial institutions and governments will translate into support for action designed to topple those same bodies."

He added: "That police have identified attempts to exploit the current economic downturn is not a surprise and they will undoubtedly be arguing for greater resources to counter a potential threat to public order."

The year has already seen wildcat strikes across the UK in sympathy with British workers protesting at the use of foreign labour at Lindsey Oil Refinery in Lincolnshire.

On Saturday, about 100,000 joined a march in Dublin to protest about the Irish government's handling of the country's recession.

Greece, France and Iceland have also seen protests over the economic crisis.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Huge protest over Irish economy
21 Feb 09 |  Europe
Industrial unrest in Europe
05 Feb 09 |  Europe
Huge crowds join French strikes
29 Jan 09 |  Europe
Riots push Greece to the edge
25 Dec 08 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific