Worsening social conditions could cause another flare-up in violence, the officers said.
The joint Guardian/London School of Economics Reading the Riots surveyed 130 officers from eight regions who were directly involved in dealing with last summer's rioting.
I think if you have bad economic times, hot weather, some sort of an event that sets it off ... my answer is, yes, it could [happen again], one superintendent from Greater Manchester Police said. Because I don't think anything has changed between now and last August, and the only thing that's different is people have thought: Riots are fun.
We arrested 300 people [in Salford and Manchester], and we sent a powerful message, but a lot of people on the periphery got away with it. Probably, if I was them, I'd have thought, yeah, I'd do it again, and probably get away with it next time.
Starting in London on Aug. 6 last year, gangs composed mostly of teenagers smashed shops, set fire to buildings and fought running battles with police in the streets of the capital.
Violence quickly spread to other major UK cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Salford and Liverpool, before order was restored four days later.
At the time, police were criticized by the media for their poor handling of the situation and for relying on heavy-handed tactics.
More than 3,000 people were arrested following the riots, with 1,000 facing criminal charges.
Officers interviewed in the survey said they feared police force cutbacks, instigated under the ruling Conservative Party's austerity-focused economic program, will curb their ability to handle any trouble that may occur this year.
One of the main criticism police faced in the aftermath of the violence was the lack of uniformed officers on the streets dealing with the rioters.