By Chris Sweeney, author who has written for various UK magazines and newspapers, including The Times, The Sun and The Daily Record. Follow him on Twitter @WritesSweeney
The UK is bracing for a crime wave, with unemployment soaring and US riots on every screen. But unlike Americans, Brits cannot own guns – so they’re scrambling for whatever security they can get, from CCTV to trained dogs.
As Britain begins to ease its Covid-19 lockdown conditions, the nation is on alert.
The UK has been warned to expect a deluge of criminality.
Doctor Simon Harding, a former Home Office and Metropolitan Police adviser, said: “We’re going to have the backwash of everything that’s happened over the last two months. There’s a crime wave coming, a tsunami on the way.”
In America, the current lawlessness has seen a surge in gun purchases, particularly from first-time owners fearful for their safety.
But with British firearm laws being so strict, many are turning to trained protection dogs.
Newspapers reported numerous wealthy footballers buying breeds including German Shepherds and Dobermans, after being targeted in a spate of robberies.
One example was England international Dele Alli, who was held hostage at knifepoint during a burglary at his home in north London, with his assailants stealing luxury watches valued at £350,000.
Big rise in dog sales
The cost of these protection dogs can range from £3,000 to £75,000. Bath-based K9 Protector has seen a 34 percent jump in sales compared to last year, and a spokesman for the company said: “We have a varied client list from royalty, inherited wealth, people in the public eye and your average individual.”
Another company offering protection dogs is A1K9. Managing director Charles Wall told RT.com: “People are concerned about the spike in crime.”
“Crime has changed; you can be targeted because of the locale you live in, such as Hampstead or Kensington in London. It is perceived people have nice things in their houses because they live in those postcodes.”
“Another draw for thieves is expensive motor cars. If your car costs £100,000, then the assumption is you will have nice watches and you could be followed home.”
“We deal with people from all walks of life. I have some high-profile Russian families in London who deal with me. Due to word of mouth, I went from one Russian client to having about 20 now.”
A1K9 has been training protection dogs at its kennels in Wales for over 20 years. Wall added: “I’ve sold dogs for up to £50,000. My cheapest dog is £12,000 and it would do a job for somebody living in a normal house and not at high risk.”
The dogs don’t fit the stereotype of a fierce animal barking as it’s restrained by an iron chain. They are placid and friendly on the surface, but trained to change their behaviour if a threat develops.
Charles believes they could overpower most intruders, even if they were armed, explaining: “You have to be a really talented individual to shoot a dog running towards you and if you miss, the dog won’t be happy.”
Other security industries in the UK have also received a surge in trade. Ben Bockett of the Oxford Alarm Company has seen business increase 20 percent year on year and explained: “We’ve definitely seen an increase in people looking to protect their property more, whether that be in the form of a new intruder alarm system or even reinstating an old system they didn’t use, as well as the addition of CCTV and security lighting.”
Threat of civil unrest
This trend looks set to continue, and there’s also the fear of civil unrest to contend with. Following the riots in the US, there have already been large-scale Black Lives Matter protests in British cities such as London, Manchester and Cardiff.
While so far there has been an emphasis on peaceful demonstration, there is always the possibility some may hijack the movement and attempt to spark violence.
Widespread rioting, arson and looting occurred around England in the wake of the police killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, in 2011.
And the potential for a repeat of that powderkeg situation is heightened by rising unemployment.
Currently the government’s emergency wage subsidy is protecting eight million jobs, but even the usually optimistic Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted: “There will be many, many job losses and that is just inevitable.”
When that happens, there is clearly potential for some of the younger people who will inevitably be sacrificed by employers to feel a sense of disenfranchisement and turn to crime.
These are worrying times. As much as it is tempting to hope the worst-case scenario won’t come to fruition, the TV pictures from America should be a cause for concern for everyone in the UK.
The hope, of course, is that communities pull together to maintain law and order. But it’s little wonder many are now considering their security and personal protection. It might be an apt time for you to do the same.
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