Knowledge-Based Public Order Policing

Knowledge-Based Public Order Policing: Principles and Practice

Stephen Reicher; Clifford Stott; John Drury; Otto Adang; Patrick Cronin; Andrew Livingstone

Policing 2007 1(4):403-415;

Much public order policing is still based on the assumption that crowds are inherently irrational and dangerous. We argue that this approach is both misinformed and counter-productive because it can lead to policing interventions that increase the influence of those advocating violence in the crowd. We challenge traditional assumptions about crowd psychology and demonstrate how widespread conflict derives from the interactions between police and crowds. From this, we develop general guidelines as to how policing can reduce crowd violence and lead crowd members themselves to self-police violent groupings in their midst. We then use examples from anti-globalisation protests and the Euro 2004 football championships to show how these guidelines can be applied in practice and how effective they can be. We conclude by arguing that such knowledge-based crowd policing can turn crowd events into opportunities to overcome seemingly intractable conflicts between the police and groups within our society.

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