An image of a poster saying 'official picket' that has been attached to a tree

We rely on a number of essential services in our daily lives such as food and water supplies, energy, and transport. Disruption caused by a technical failure, emergency incident, or industrial action has a significant effect on the economy and society.

Industrial action can lead to temporary closures, reduced services and disruption to organisations, customers and the general public.

Consequences of industrial action may include:

  • disruption to essential services, particularly transport, health and education
  • disruption to business (lost working hours)
  • possible public order challenges (with associated pressure on policing)
  • economic damage (particularly for transport sector industrial action)

Contact you’re the service provider or go to a trusted local media outlet for further information and the latest advice on local services.

What we are doing in the West Midlands

Service providers have well-established plans and procedures in place to respond to these types of incidents.

The organisations that make-up the West Midlands Resilience Forum (WMRF) have procedures to help identify people who are vulnerable and may need assistance in a crisis.

The WMRF are working with infrastructure owners and operators, regulators, trade associations and the Government to ensure that the most critical infrastructure has been identified and make sure that they are resilient to disruption and recover quickly from an incident.

There are also business continuity plans to continue to provide essential services during emergency situations.

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.

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 frequently
  • comply with police and answer their questions


The right to protest is protected by the Human Rights Act.

It is important that communities understand the responsibilities on organisers in relation to protests. Engaging with the police to ensure that protests and protesters are safe is vital and, in some circumstances, this is a legal requirement imposed by Section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986.

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