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In both the UK and USA recently there have been occasions where rioters have run out of control – often watched by the police who did nothing – looting and burning a poor neighbourhood.

This raises a number of questions. The police claim the disorders were too large for them to control – but historically in such situations the army were brought in. The UK and USA still have armies, don’t they?

In the USA there has been much attention drawn to the over-militarisation of the police who appear to have been using methods, and military equipment in ways employed against suspected insurgents in Iraq, against American citizens, for perfectly simple legal processes that in the past would have been carried out with a polite visit at normal hours. These days they break the door down without even checking they have the right door. The police have all this military equipment which they have demonstrated they are eager to use but when a riot starts – they are helpless?

The areas where the riots occur are often poor neighbourhoods which may also be relatively self sufficient communities, hosting their own small to medium size businesses and lower cost accommodation . They are the only places that poor people have left to live .

When the riots pass and media attention looks elsewhere, what happens to those neighbourhoods? Do they return to normal, or do they deteriorate  opening up opportunities for the property development vultures to move in?

In third world countries it is not unusual for shanty towns, the only places that poor people can afford to live to be bulldozed or burnt, either by the police or military at the behest of the state, and the land used to build luxury high rises.

In the UK and USA that is not yet acceptable but an orchestrated riot might achieve the same objective.

Interesting to revisit these riot areas a year or two from now to see what has happened to them.

In the meantime the authorities have made it abundantly clear that protecting ordinary people from crime is not a great priority. Perhaps we need a huge expansion of civilian self-help bodies such as the Guardian Angels or Oath Keepers to protect citizens where the authorities can’t be bothered.