Two national newspapers say that arms firms are working closely with UK armed forces on a "militarisation" strategy to counter civil disorder in the UK.
The claims appeared in sister papers The Guardian on 13 November and the Observer on 14 November, and are seen as reflecting fears within government and the military that student unrest over massive fee increases last week is only the tip of the iceberg as far as public opposition to spending cuts hitting the most vulnerable in society is concerned.
The papers claim that the trade group representing the military and security industry says arms firms are in negotiation with senior officers over possible orders for armoured vehicles, body scanners and better surveillance equipment for deploying on the streets of Britain.
The article, written by Anushka Asthana, Mark Townsend and Toby Helm, goes on: "The move coincides with government-backed attempts to introduce the use of unmanned spy drones throughout UK airspace, facilitating an expansion of covert surveillance that could provide intelligence on future demonstrations."
The article continues: "Derek Marshall, of the trade body Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS), said that such drones could eventually replace police helicopters.He added that military manufacturers had discussed police procurement policies with the government, as forces look to counter an identified threat of civil disobedience from political extremists.
"Meanwhile police sources say they have detected an increase in the criminal intentions of political extremists and are monitoring 'extreme leftwing activity' in light of last week's student protest.
"The office of the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) said it was feeding information to Scotland Yard's National Public Order Intelligence Unit, which holds a database of protest groups. NCDE, which in turn works closely with the Confidential Intelligence Unit that monitors political groups throughout the UK, said it had already recorded a rise in politically motivated disorder," report the papers.