Managing collective violence around public events: an international comparison

Managing collective violence around public events: an international comparison
Adang, O. et al. (Lectoraat Openbare Orde & Gevaarbeheersing, Politieacademie, Apeldoorn) Politiewetenschap 55 (Politie en Wetenschap, Apeldoorn/Reed Business, Amsterdam) 2011

This report presents the results of an international comparative study into public disorder and collective violence in relation to large-scale events carried out in Germany, Great Britain and Sweden. The study was carried out in parallel to a Dutch study that sought to answer the question whether events at a dance festival in Hoek van Holland in august 2009 where police officers were attacked and fired numerous shots, killing one individual, were the expression of a new trend or phenomenon regarding (the threat of) collective violence against police officers (and others) during large scale events. The results of this international study indicate there is no new trend in this respect and confirm that the mechanics of the initiation and escalation of violence are essentially the same for both ideologically and non-ideologically motivated actors and that factors responsible for the initiation of collective violence are not the same as the factors that lead to the escalation of collective violence (in the sense that the violence continues and more people become involved). The initiation/escalation model provides a comprehensive framework to understand why and how collective violence occurs and provides a guide as to what types of intervention can and will be effective (or counterproductive) in preventing collective violence from occurring or escalating and what types of intervention will not.

The conclusion of the study is that the most important lesson to be taken from Hoek van Holland and from the international study is not to be found in a need for new and more effective weapons or new and expanded preventive powers, but in a renewed consciousness of and alertness for what matters in ensuring safety and security around public events: thorough preparation, gathering and using intelligence on habitual offenders, preventing and limiting opportunities to behave violently with impunity, monitoring behaviour of participants, using early, low profile interventions and enforcing tolerance limits that are perceived to be reasonable in a friendly, firm and believable way.

The research was made possible by the Police Science & Research Programme (PS&RP), an independent institution of the Dutch Police Academy. It's main objective is the development of a scientific body-of-knowledge concerning the police and the police work, which can support the police in the ongoing search for professionalizing and innovating work and organization. The core business of the PS&RP is the programming and execution of a long-term research programme. Research reports are published in one of two series: Police Science and Police Skills. Publications in Police Science concern mainly studies of a more conceptual and theoretical nature.

Fiction, facts and a summer's fairy tale - mixed messages at the World Cup 2006, Policing & Society, 2010

The FIFA World Championships 2006 in Germany have been praised for their positive atmosphere and described as a 'fairy tale'. Yet, more than 9000 persons were arrested. This paper presents an analysis of police tactics and deployments and their relation to the frequency of incidents and the group relations between fans and between fans and police. Data collection was carried out within three host cities in North Rhine-Westphalia in relation to 10 games of the tournament, drawing on a combination of structured and qualitative observational methods. The outcomes are mixed. Group relations were mostly positive, indicated by positive interaction between fan groups; however, frequency of incidents and arrests suggest that the tournament was not as peaceful as the media coverage may have implied. Deeper analyses suggest that legitimate group relations and positive fan behaviour were associated with differentiated policing, carried out in relation to the situational context and the actual risk present.

Martina Schreiber & Otto Adang in: Policing and Society, Volume 20, Issue 2 June 2010, pages 237 - 255

Riots between youths of Moroccan and Moluccan background, January 9, 2010

Behavioural scientist Otto Adang sees the riots as simply a typical example of what is known in the field as 'young male syndrome' during New Year’s Eve celebrations. A lecturer in public order and control at the police academy in Apeldoorn, he points out there were 2,500 incidents reported to the police, and 940 people were arrested during this year’s New Year’s Eve festivities. It’s traditionally a time when people party with friends or fight with enemies.

“It’s all about prestige,” he said in an interview. “That’s why they play this cat-and-mouse game with the riot police. Wherever the riot police appears, groups of youngsters materialise till the fighting begins again. They keep looking at each other to see what the reaction is to their attacks. It isn’t blind aggression. They choose to get involved.”

See complete article at NRC International

Police talk about using force

Singing the same tune? International continuities and discontinuities in how police talk about using force

Crime, Law and Social Change, Volume 52, Number 2 / August, 2009, Pages 111-138

P. A. J. Waddington, Otto Adang, David Baker, Christopher Birkbeck, Thomas Feltes, Luis Gerardo Gabaldón, Eduardo Paes Machado and Philip Stenning

This article focuses on a research project conducted in six jurisdictions: England, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Venezuela, and Brazil. These societies are very different ethnically, socially, politically, economically, historically and have wildly different levels of crime. Their policing arrangements also differ significantly: how they are organised; how their officers are equipped and trained; what routine operating procedures they employ; whether they are armed; and much else besides. Most relevant for this research, they represent policing systems with wildly different levels of police shootings, Police in the two Latin American countries represented here have a justified reputation for the frequency with which they shoot people, whereas at the other extreme the police in England do not routinely carry firearms and rarely shoot anyone. To probe whether these differences are reflected in the way that officers talk about the use of force, police officers in these different jurisdictions were invited to discuss in focus groups a scenario in which police are thwarted in their attempt to arrest two youths (one of whom is a known local criminal) by the youths driving off with the police in pursuit, and concludes with the youths crashing their car and escaping in apparent possession of a gun, It might be expected that focus groups would prove starkly different, and indeed they were, but not in the way that might be expected. There was little difference in affirmation of normative and legal standards regarding the use of force. It was in how officers in different jurisdictions envisaged the circumstances in which the scenario took place that led Latin American officers to anticipate that they would shoot the suspects, whereas officers in the other jurisdictions had little expectation that they would open fire in the conditions as they imagined them to be.

Researching the use of force

Researching the use of force: the background to the international project Export
by: Philip Stenning, Christopher Birkbeck, Otto Adang, David Baker, Thomas Feltes, Luis Gabaldón, Maki Haberfeld, Paes & P. Waddington

Crime, Law and Social Change, Volume 52, Number 2 / August, 2009, Pages 95-110

This article provides the background to an international project on use of force by the police that was carried out in seven countries. Force is often considered to be the defining characteristic of policing and much research has been conducted on the determinants, prevalence and control of the use of force, particularly in the United States. However, little work has looked at police officers’ own views on the use of force, in particular the way in which they justify it. Using a hypothetical encounter developed for this project, researchers in each country conducted focus groups with police officers in which they were encouraged to talk about the use of force. The results show interesting similarities and differences across countries and demonstrate the value of using this kind of research focus and methodology.

Police science: theory, methodology and practice Summerschool, august 2009

The first Summer School to prepare the PhD-Net will be held 23 August 2009 - 4 September 2009 in Muenster, organized by Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany and the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa with financial support by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in cooperation with German Police University, Muenster and University Duisburg/Essen

CEPOL Policing Major Public Events, June 25-26, 2009

The first ever CEPOL Research Symposium: Policing Major Public Events took place on 25-26 June, 2009 at the Swedish National Police Academy in Solna, Sweden.

Thirteen researchers from Austria, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, together with seven Commanders and Operative Chiefs from Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, explored the status of research on policing public major events.

Football violence in Argentina, march 2009

Behavioural Scientist Otto Adang has advised many European countries on combating football violence including at the last 3 European Championships. He has recently been in Argentina and highlighted the different nature of the problem here. 'In Argentina the European solution is impractical. In Europe the hooligans were on the fringes of the system. Here (Argentina) they have surprising links to the business of football'. The business he refers to is on occasion holding players contracts/registrations, controlling merchandise sales, travel and selling drugs.

See also: Football stars run scared of 'bravas' bullets

Dutch security expert Otto Adang said European-style solutions to hooliganism would not work in Argentina.

"I'm shocked at the connections that the barras have with power," he said in the sports daily Ole.

"The European solution in Argentina is impractical. In Europe, the hooligans are concentrated in marginal groups with no relation to the system. Here, they are connected to a surprising extent."

Football Supporters and Public Order Management

Conference: Football Supporters and Public Order Management, 22 -23 January 2009
Aarhus, Danmark


The management of public order in the context of football is a major social, political and financial problem on both a national and an international level. Over the last three years this issue has become a salient concern in Denmark. In 2007 the re-elected Danish Government mentioned safety and security at football events as one of its prioritised tasks in their forthcoming term. Over the last three decades many other nations in Europe have been developing their own legislative and policing approaches to the problems of managing football related public order. There have also been important developments in scientific understanding of public order policing and its relationship to the dynamics of football crowd events.

The Danish Ministry of Culture and the University of Aarhus have sponsored this Conference in order to draw together key agencies, leading practitioners and scientific experts from Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. The intention is to draw upon available knowledge and expertise to generate recommendations for the effective management of football related public order both inside and outside football stadiums in Denmark.

The conference is organised around three distinctive but interrelated themes.
• Safety & Security
• Policing football supporters
• Legislation and fan involvement

More information at: