"Tom, simple join the British Army and do two tours of Norn Iron."I was a bit flippant in my first response, but my original advice was not too far off.
OK, that's a start. So, is there a British Army manual that I could read? Or did you get special training for that duty?
I'm really very curious, because I would like to have a set of skills that I -- a somewhat out-of-shape but not necessarily overweight -- man could call upon that are not lethal. Signing up for a tour in the US Army is also off limits because of my age.
As a civilian, your best bet is to:
- Try to stay out of that sort of area in the first place
- Be aware of your surroundings
- If you see an angry crowd coming down the street--go the other way!
Basic kit would be
- Nomex coveralls, with hood as well as reinforced knee and elbow pads
- Riot helmet
More specialised gear would be the perspex shield, baton, CS grenades, specialised transport (e.g snatch land rover), etcetera.
In the US, you could buy CS spray, but I am not sure of the legality of carrying it in your area. And you need a huge bottle of the stuff for crowd control.
But the military and the police have another advantage over civilians in crowd control--numbers.
I am assuming that you would be one, maybe two, at most a handful of people--not best to try to take on a large crowd without the gear in such circumstances. Snatch squads aren't that large,but they are well trained and well equipped.
And while Dan Snow caught and sat on a looter who ran past him carrying armfuls of shoes, he is a big strapping lad--a former member of the Balliol College rowing team (the rowing fraternity is pretty tall with Dan coming in at 6"5'), you are not.
Part of my reasons for writing a more in depth answer comes from having watched The Panorama episode on the August Riots. Far more frightening to me than the crowds was the burning. Seeing the fires in Tottenham where a family lost their home and Croyden where a 150-year-old furniture store burned down was particularly disturbing to me.
I will admit to PTSD from being in a petrol fire. The first thing that comes into your mind is that a tablespoon's worth of petrol fume has the equivalent explosive power to 4 sticks of dynamite. The second is "where the fuck is the fire extinguisher?" I did put out the flames, but unless you want to pack around a halon fire extinguisher you won't be prepared for such an eventuality.
Although some communities did stand watch to protect their property such as the Sikhs in Southall. People in Enfield, Hackney and Eltham also patrolled their areas with the police warning against vigilantism.
As for firearms.
It is alleged that a shooting was what caused the riots in the first place.
Also a gun isn't that useful in putting out a raging fire: the way a fire extinguisher would be.
Tariq Jahan's appeal for peace is what is supposed to have stopped the riots.
Draw your own conclusion.
I would also add that CCTV is proving to be quite an effective tool in catching the people responsible for these acts.
My area was fairly peaceful compared to where White Rabbit lives. The rioters broke into Hugo Boss and the Bureau de Change next to the tube station and the betting shop a bit further away.
We Brits tend to be fairly unflappable in the face of adversity though.
Although, one of my parent's friends opined the rioters should be made to do national service...
BBC News England Riots
Father of victim appeals for calm
England riots: Before-and-after images of the devastation