Rainer Wendt, head of the German Police Union (DPolG) told Wednesday’s edition of Bild that Germany shares the combustible social problems that have driven the massive riots in London and other major cities for the past four nights.
“The riots are the result of criminal energy, contempt for the state and the social marginalisation of certain groups,” he said.
This “highly explosive mix” also existed in Germany. Particularly in large cities such as Hamburg and Berlin, “such flashpoints could arise out of senseless provocation, which can only be contained with great difficulty,” he said.
Britain’s riots, which began in London on Saturday night after a 29-year-old man was shot dead by police, spread on Tuesday night to Manchester and the midlands. One man has been killed, more than 100 police have been injured and hundreds of people have been arrested in what is considered the worst civil unrest in decades.
Wendt cited the regular May 1 demonstrations in Hamburg and Berlin as examples of how similar unrest could swell up quickly.
“Police and politicians in Germany would be similarly overstretched in the early days of such massive riots as they were in Great Britain,” he said.
He said police needed better technical resources to monitor social networking sites and other communications methods, by which the British riots in many cases appear to have been organised.
However Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said in Potsdam on Wednesday: “I don’t believe that can happen in Germany.”