English company Wish.co.uk has sparked controversy for giving people as young as 16 the chance to take part in an actual riot, during a day-long activity called the Riot Training Day Experience. Organizers promise noise, fire, smoke and fear as the main ingredients.
If the name Wish.co.uk sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’re the guys behind other unique experiences we’ve featured on Oddity Central in the past, like the Zombie Boot Camp and the Zombie Shopping Mall experience. After pitting people against zombies and werewolves, they decided it would be a good idea to offer them the opportunity to experience riots from both sides of the fence – the rioters and the baton wielding riot policemen. The adrenaline-packed staged riot takes place on an industrial estate, near the town Droitwich, Worcestershire, costs £79 ($127) per person, and has apparently been booked up every weekend for the next four months. Despite its commercial success, local authorities aren’t at all pleased a “riot training” is being allowed to take place. ‘Not only are they showing people how to instigate a riot, they are showing them how to instigate a riot well. It is utterly irresponsible,’ local Member of Parliament Peter Luff told the Daily Mail.
Most people think riots are just about screaming loudly, throwing things and “running into a crowd waving a big stick wearing a crash helmet”, but with the Riot Training Experience, Wish.co.uk aims to show people there’s much more to these anarchic events. Upon arriving on scene, participants are given a full briefing on modern riot control techniques, as well as a complete safety run down. Afterwards, famous riots in history will be profiled, and ex-police/military experts will teach them all about the tactics and formations they’ll be using during the staged riot, and get them familiarized with equipment like ballistic helmets, visors, batons and four foot riot shields. Learning about batons, snatch squads, casualty evacuation, they’re all covered in the quick riot training, as well as proper petrol bomb throwing.
After lunch, adrenaline junkies are split into two groups: rioters and the properly-equipped security forces who try to keep them under control. Then all hell breaks loose. As riot policemen “you’ll stand firm as you come under a barrage of debris, advancing forwards as smoke swirls around your waist. Brace yourselves as petrol bombs are thrown. Noise, fire, smoke and fear are the main ingredients.” Volleys of simulated baton rounds are fired into the rioters, and as you hear the “Snatch Squads prepare” command given by the professionals supervising the whole thing, you’ll head out toward the raging mob to grab ring leaders.
After playing a riot policemen, participants will get to experience a riot from a different perspective, as they step in the shoes of a rioter. This time, they’ll be bashing police shields, throwing stuff at them, flipping cars over and a bunch of other stuff rioters typically do. Although Wish.co.uk has made it clear they are not encouraging anybody to riot, the company has been criticized for bad taste, after England was devastated by unprecedented riots in 2011. ‘Rioting is not a game. It is utterly irresponsible and insensitive not least because there are thousands of victims scarred to this day by the memories of what happened in that terrible August week of last year,” Birmingham MP Jack Dromey said.
How do you feel about the Riot Training Day experience? Is it just a fun weekend activity, or a worrying riot class?