Public disorder (riots)

What is public disorder?

Public disorder can take many forms, including rioting, looting, vandalism, violence and arson. Disorder is unpredictable and peaceful protests can escalate quickly when small numbers of individuals are intent on provoking violence.

What does it mean for me?

Consequences of public disorder may include:

  • physical and/or psychological casualties
  • disruption to critical services, particularly policing and health
  • damage to property and infrastructure
  • possible evacuation or temporary shelter requirements
  • possible economic damage

What should I do if I'm caught up in a riot?

If you've found yourself in the middle of a riot, you may not be able to run away immediately. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself from harm:

  • remain calm
  • walk (running may attract unwanted attention)
  • avoid confrontation by keeping your head down
  • go indoors and wait for the crowd to pass
  • stay close to walls and other barriers where possible, but avoid tunnels
  • move carefully to the outside of the crowd
  • follow social media, as this is likely to be updated most frequently
  • comply with police and answer their questions

What if I'm overseas?

You’re responsible for your own personal safety when travelling, and should read and follow the advice provided by the British government and local authorities.

If an incident does occur abroad, follow the advice or directives of local authorities in the first instance.

Advice for British nationals affected by crises abroad is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on GOV.UK's website.

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