Concern serious disorder could ‘overwhelm’ attempts to control coronavirus – Evening Standard



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Serious public disorder in the coming months could “overwhelm all attempts” to control coronavirus, the Government’s scientific advisers have been warned.

The current “volatile and highly complex situation” means the UK will face “grave challenges” in maintaining order, according to a paper considered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) in July.

The academics warn that tensions duirng 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 US.

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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.

Coronavirus hits the UK – In pictures

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Electronic bilboards displays a message warning people to stay home in Sheffield

PA

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An image of The Queen eith quotes from her broadcast to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the Coronavirus epidemic are displayed on lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus

PA

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Boris Johnson addresses the nation on the Coronavirus lockdown

Andrew Parsons

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Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 101 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ hospital

Getty Images

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Durdle Door in Dorset

Reuters

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Captain Tom Moore

via Reuters

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Mia, aged 8, and Jack, aged 5, take part in “PE with Joe” a daily live workout with Joe Wicks on Youtube to help kids stay fit who have to stay indoors due to the Coronavirus outbreak

PA

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An NHS worker reacts at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during the Clap for our Carers campaign in support of the NHS

Reuters

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Goats which have taken over the deserted streets of Llandudno

@AndrewStuart via PA

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Tobias Weller

PA

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Novikov restaurant in London with its shutters pulled down while the restaurant is closed

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London Landscapes: Hyde Park and the Serpentine, central London.

Matt Writtle

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A newspaper vendor in Manchester city centre giving away free toilet rolls with every paper bought as shops run low on supplies due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus

PA

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Theo Clay looks out of his window next to his hand-drawn picture of a rainbow in Liverpool, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue

Reuters

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A young man cuts another man’s hair on top of a closed hairdresser in Oxford

Reuters

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General view of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, built to fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London

via Reuters

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Jason Baird is seen dressed as Spiderman during his daily exercise to cheer up local children in Stockport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

Reuters

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A woman wearing a face mask walks past Buckingham Palace

Getty Images

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A man holds mobile phone displaying a text message alert sent by the government warning that new rules are in force across the UK and people must stay at home

PA

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Medical staff on the Covid-19 ward at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital, in Wales, as the health services continue their response to the coronavirus outbreak.

PA

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking part in a virtual Cabinet meeting with his top team of ministers

PA

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A shopper walks past empty shelves in a Lidl store on in Wallington. After spates of “panic buying” cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus.

Getty Images

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People on a busy tube train in London at rush hour

PA

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Mia, aged 8 and her brother Jack, aged 5 from Essex, continue their school work at home, after being sent home due to the coronavirus

PA

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Children are painting ‘Chase the rainbows’ artwork and springing up in windows across the country

Reuters

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Social distancing in Primrose Hill

Jeremy Selwyn

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Westminster Bridge is deserted

PA

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A general view of a locked gate at Anfield, Liverpool as The Premier League has been suspended

PA

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An empty escalator at Charing Coss London Underground tube station

Jeremy Selwyn

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Homeless people in London

AFP via Getty Images

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A piece of art by the artist, known as the Rebel Bear has appeared on a wall on Bank Street in Glasgow. The new addition to Glasgow’s street art is capturing the global Coronavirus crisis. The piece features a woman and a man pulling back to give each other a kiss

PA

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The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic

PA

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A general view on Grey street, Newcastle as coronavirus cases grow around the world

Reuters

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Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside

PA

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Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (L) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance look on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news conference inside 10 Downing Street

Reuters

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The ticket-validation terminals at the tram stop on Edinburgh’s Princes Street are cleaned following the coronavirus outbreak.

PA

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Locked school gates at Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

PA

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A sign at a Sainsbury’s supermarket informs customers that limits have been set on a small number of products as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases grow around the world

Reuters

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Jawad Javed delivers coronavirus protection kits that he and his wife have put together to the vulnerable people of their community of Stenhousemuir, between Glasgow and Edinburgh

AFP via Getty Images

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A sign advertising a book titled “How Will We Survive On Earth?”

Getty Images

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A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria

Jeremy Selwyn

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A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads “Diseases are in the City” in Edinburgh

AFP via Getty Images

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Staff from The Lyric Theatre, London inform patrons, as it shuts its doors

PA

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A quiet looking George IV Bridge in Edinburgh

PA

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A quieter than usual British Museum

Getty Images

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A racegoer attends Cheltenham in a fashionable face mask

SplashNews.com

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A commuter wears a face mask at London Bridge Station

Jeremy Selwyn

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A empty restaurant in the Bull Ring Shopping Centre

Getty Images

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A deserted Trafalgar Square in London

PA

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Passengers determined to avoid the coronavirus before leaving the UK arrive at Gatwick Airport

Getty Images

1/50

Electronic bilboards displays a message warning people to stay home in Sheffield

PA

2/50

An image of The Queen eith quotes from her broadcast to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the Coronavirus epidemic are displayed on lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus

PA

3/50

Boris Johnson addresses the nation on the Coronavirus lockdown

Andrew Parsons

4/50

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 101 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ hospital

Getty Images

5/50

Durdle Door in Dorset

Reuters

6/50

Captain Tom Moore

via Reuters

7/50

Mia, aged 8, and Jack, aged 5, take part in “PE with Joe” a daily live workout with Joe Wicks on Youtube to help kids stay fit who have to stay indoors due to the Coronavirus outbreak

PA

8/50

An NHS worker reacts at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during the Clap for our Carers campaign in support of the NHS

Reuters

9/50

Goats which have taken over the deserted streets of Llandudno

@AndrewStuart via PA

10/50

Tobias Weller

PA

11/50

Novikov restaurant in London with its shutters pulled down while the restaurant is closed

12/50

London Landscapes: Hyde Park and the Serpentine, central London.

Matt Writtle

13/50

A newspaper vendor in Manchester city centre giving away free toilet rolls with every paper bought as shops run low on supplies due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus

PA

14/50

Theo Clay looks out of his window next to his hand-drawn picture of a rainbow in Liverpool, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue

Reuters

15/50

A young man cuts another man’s hair on top of a closed hairdresser in Oxford

Reuters

16/50

General view of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, built to fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London

via Reuters

17/50

Jason Baird is seen dressed as Spiderman during his daily exercise to cheer up local children in Stockport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

Reuters

18/50

A woman wearing a face mask walks past Buckingham Palace

Getty Images

19/50

A man holds mobile phone displaying a text message alert sent by the government warning that new rules are in force across the UK and people must stay at home

PA

20/50

Medical staff on the Covid-19 ward at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital, in Wales, as the health services continue their response to the coronavirus outbreak.

PA

21/50

Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking part in a virtual Cabinet meeting with his top team of ministers

PA

22/50

A shopper walks past empty shelves in a Lidl store on in Wallington. After spates of “panic buying” cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus.

Getty Images

23/50

People on a busy tube train in London at rush hour

PA

24/50

Mia, aged 8 and her brother Jack, aged 5 from Essex, continue their school work at home, after being sent home due to the coronavirus

PA

25/50

Children are painting ‘Chase the rainbows’ artwork and springing up in windows across the country

Reuters

26/50

Social distancing in Primrose Hill

Jeremy Selwyn

27/50

Westminster Bridge is deserted

PA

28/50

A general view of a locked gate at Anfield, Liverpool as The Premier League has been suspended

PA

29/50

An empty escalator at Charing Coss London Underground tube station

Jeremy Selwyn

30/50

Homeless people in London

AFP via Getty Images

31/50

A piece of art by the artist, known as the Rebel Bear has appeared on a wall on Bank Street in Glasgow. The new addition to Glasgow’s street art is capturing the global Coronavirus crisis. The piece features a woman and a man pulling back to give each other a kiss

PA

32/50

The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic

PA

33/50

A general view on Grey street, Newcastle as coronavirus cases grow around the world

Reuters

34/50

Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside

PA

35/50

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (L) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance look on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news conference inside 10 Downing Street

Reuters

36/50

The ticket-validation terminals at the tram stop on Edinburgh’s Princes Street are cleaned following the coronavirus outbreak.

PA

37/50

Locked school gates at Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

PA

38/50

A sign at a Sainsbury’s supermarket informs customers that limits have been set on a small number of products as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases grow around the world

Reuters

39/50

Jawad Javed delivers coronavirus protection kits that he and his wife have put together to the vulnerable people of their community of Stenhousemuir, between Glasgow and Edinburgh

AFP via Getty Images

40/50

A sign advertising a book titled “How Will We Survive On Earth?”

Getty Images

41/50

A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria

Jeremy Selwyn

42/50

A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads “Diseases are in the City” in Edinburgh

AFP via Getty Images

43/50

Staff from The Lyric Theatre, London inform patrons, as it shuts its doors

PA

44/50

A quiet looking George IV Bridge in Edinburgh

PA

45/50

A quieter than usual British Museum

Getty Images

46/50

A racegoer attends Cheltenham in a fashionable face mask

SplashNews.com

47/50

A commuter wears a face mask at London Bridge Station

Jeremy Selwyn

48/50

A empty restaurant in the Bull Ring Shopping Centre

Getty Images

49/50

A deserted Trafalgar Square in London

PA

50/50

Passengers determined to avoid the coronavirus before leaving the UK arrive at Gatwick Airport

Getty Images

The paper, by Professors Cliff Stott and Mark Harrison, reads: “While widespread urban disorder is not inevitable, currently, the situation in the UK is precariously balanced and the smallest error in policing (whether perceived or real, inside or outside the UK) or policy could unleash a dynamic which will make the management of Covid-19 all but impossible.

“Put simply, a serious deterioration of public order could overwhelm all attempts to control contagion, overwhelm hospitals, the criminal justice system and hinder revival of the economy.”

The authors observe that large-scale protests, celebrations and unlicensed music events have been increasing, while public health messaging has become less clear.

A major incident was declared when people massed on a beach in Bournemouth in June, while the resumption of football has led to large-scale gatherings and conflict.

Brixton street party erupts into chaos

The paper, Public Disorder and Public Health: Contemporary Threats and Risks, was considered by Sage two days before pubs reopened in England, which the authors warned would complicate and introduce new problems.

They also warned that localised lockdowns could be problematic if they occur over Eid, which is the case after last-minute measures were imposed in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire on Thursday evening.

Read more

The scapegoating of various communities, and a sense of inequality or grievance due to localised lockdowns, could also stoke flames.

Any resulting disorder could be of equal or greater scale to the 2011 London riots, with police capacity having diminished in the intervening years.

This will mean officers being redeployed from different roles, affecting police forces’ ability to deliver “business as usual”, they say.

“If such a situation were to develop a security crisis would ensue, undermining public trust in Government and catastrophically undermining its Covid-19 recovery plans,” the paper adds.

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