Civil Unrest

Protests in the UK (especially London) are pretty much a daily occurrence, and the Police are well versed in dealing with them. However, in recent months there appears to have been an uptick in protest activity and tactics with protest groups related to Climate Change, fuel prices, cost of living (to name but a few) all taking to the street to demonstrate. The majority of protests are peaceful but on occasion demonstrations and protests can turn violent.

During my career in Special Branch, I was regularly involved in the policing of protests and riots.  If you’re ever involved in a protest or stumble upon one, here are some top tips to keep safe and reduce your vulnerability:

  • If a protest turns violent or there are indications violence or confrontation is likely, leave the area immediately
  • If you find yourself caught up in a protest or riot keep to the edge of the crowd where it is safest. Try not to be identified as one of the demonstrators by keeping well away from the leaders/agitators
  • At the first opportunity break away and seek refuge in a nearby building, or find a suitable doorway or alley and stay there until the crowd passes
  • When leaving the fringe of the demonstration just walk away – don’t run as you will draw attention to yourself
  • If you are caught up in the crowd, stay clear of glass shop fronts, stay on your feet and move with the flow, escape as soon as possible
  • If you are swept along in the crush, don’t panic and try and stay on your feet – create a space for yourself by grasping your wrists and bracing your elbows away from your sides; bend over slightly as this should allow you breathing room
  • If pushed to the ground, immediately try to get up but if not possible try to get against a wall and roll yourself into a tight ball and cover your head with your hands until the crowd passes
  • Remember, keep calm – the crowd should sweep past in a short space of time

If you’re visiting an area which is unknown to you, it is best to search the internet to see whether there are any events or demonstrations and avoid the area – plan your day, and you may be able to avoid being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’. In my experience, even the tamest demonstration has the potential to erupt into violence at any stage.

In our training facility here at Valkyrie, we offer classes on personal safety and security. Please contact us at or telephone 02074 999 323.

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