Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 26

Preventing Crowd Violence

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 26

Edited by Tamara D. Madensen & Johannes Knutsson

Buy this volume from Lynne Rienner Publishers


Title and copyright pages
From Crisis to Opportunity: New Crowd Psychology and Public Order Policing Principles
by Stephen Reicher, School of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

In this chapter I use the events of the G20 demonstrations in London, March 2009, in order to contrast two different approaches to crowd psychology and public order policing. On the one hand, traditional crowd psychology characterises crowds as inherently violent, it leads to the perception of crowds as always constituting a potential problem and to defensive or even repressive policing practices. On the other hand, the new crowd psychology stresses the variability of crowd action and shows how behaviour is a function of interactions between the crowd and others – notably the police. It analyses the ways in which different forms of public order policing contribute either to the escalation or de-escalation of violence, and it lays out both principles and practical guidelines for preventing crowd conflict. What is more, applied systematically, these procedures can not only improve relations within the crowd event but also enhance the relations between the police and the participating groups more generally. Overall, shifting from a practice based on the old crowd psychology to a practice based on the new crowd psychology can turn crowd events from a problem into an opportunity for improving police-community relations.

Crowd Dynamics and Public Order Policing
by Clifford Stott, University of Liverpool

Traditionally the issue of football 'hooliganism' has been rather overlooked in the literature on public order policing. Yet football fixtures are crowd events which across Europe place perhaps some of the heaviest regular demands upon the police in terms their use of resources. Football tournaments and fixtures are also highly politicised such that policing policy meshes with the demands of governments eager to demonstrate their ability to control public order. The study of football crowd events therefore provides a useful arena in which to address theoretical debates concerning relationships between public order policing and crowd dynamics. This chapter will develop upon the arguments put forward by Reicher (this volume) by focusing upon a series of studies of the policing of football crowds across the last eighteen years. The analysis focuses upon the developing nature of and links between police understanding, police tactics, crowd dynamics and the risk football crowds pose to public order. The paper will explore the importance of a strategic focus upon facilitation, graded tactical models, 'dialogue' and the information led use of force by the police. The evidence from this research will be discussed in terms of the Elaborated Social Identity Model of crowd behaviour and its proposals regarding the principles of effective public order policing. The paper will conclude by focusing upon debates concerning 'negotiated management' versus 'escalated force' and exploring the implications of the analysis of football crowds for governing the future direction of research on crowd dynamics and public order policing.

Initiation and Escalation of Collective Violence: An Observational Study
by Otto M.J. Adang, Police Academy of the Netherlands

Few studies have looked directly at what happens during collective events and what factors contribute to the initiation and escalation of collective violence. In this chapter, data obtained through systematic observations around 60 football matches and 77 protest events in the Netherlands considered to constitute a risk to public order are presented and analyzed. Among the results are the following: Even in highly escalated incidents of collective violence, the relative number of people actually commiting acts of violence is low. Targets of violence do not seem to be randomly chosen. In approximately half of violent incidents there was no recognisable context that could have served as a potential 'trigger' for the initiation of violence. The initiation and escalation of violence is strongly linked to interaction between participants from different groups and the relationship between these groups. In addition, the chapter discusses the impact of police style and tactics on the initiation and escalation of collective violence. Finally, the issues of how the results of the study fit in with different theories of collective violence and what they mean for the management of public order are addressed.

Police Use of Active and Passive Mitigation Strategies at Crowd Events
by Ingrid Hylander, Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Kjell Granström, Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences

A model that accounts for both aggravation (creating and escalating disturbances) and mitigation (resolving and de-escalating conflicts) was first developed following the Gothenburg riots in 2001 and has since been used to analyze data from several other crowd events in Sweden and abroad. In this presentation, the model will be illustrated by data collected from police and protesters from the same events. The model focuses on three interactive processes: mutual treatment, organizing, and categorizing, whose extreme positions may constitute either aggravation or mitigation. Swedish research has particularly focused on mitigation, arguing that mitigation strategies are something more than the absence of aggravation strategies. The importance of contextual factors such as the type of demonstration or protesters will also be discussed. One important finding is that a crowd event organized to be easily recognized by the police and similar to their own type of organization is seen by them as more legitimate than when the organization of the event is alien to the police hierarchy. There is an interaction between categorizing, organizing, and mutual treatment that will enhance either aggravation or mitigation. This chapter focuses on how the interaction of the police categorization of the protesters' organization brings about different types of treatment. The Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM) for crowd events has soundly demonstrated how police categorizing of a crowd brings about specific treatment that may escalate a conflict. What we add through this research is a notion of how the organization of the protest affects the way the police categorize the event and treat the demonstrators.

Policing the British G8 Protests: A Contextualized Analysis
by David P. Waddington, Sheffield Hallam University

This chapter employs the seven levels of analysis constituting the Flashpoints Model of Public Disorder (i.e. structural, political/ideological, cultural, institutional/organizational, contextual, situational and interactional) as a framework for interpreting police public order tactics and strategies implemented during protests accompanying G8 ministerial meetings in Sheffield and Edinburgh in 2005, and for understanding the impact of these methods on police-protester relations. By considering these events in terms of the model's seven levels of analysis, the chapter emphasises the importance of adopting a suitably contextualized approach to understanding police-protester interaction and its consequences for public order. The type of explanation adopted in the chapter is regarded as complementary to social psychological approaches which see the formation of social identity and solidarity as pivotal to crowd behaviour. The chapter concludes by noting the implications of the flashpoints model, as applied in the two G8 examples, for the police management of future large-scale and/or transnational protests.

Crowd-Related Crime from an Environmental Criminological Perspective
by Tamara D. Madensen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and John E. Eck, University of Cincinnati

The collective principles and theories of Environmental Criminology have not been systematically applied to crowd-related crimes. Therefore, it is unclear whether this approach can effectively address the wide range of harms that tend to occur in and around large gatherings. This chapter compares the basic assumptions of Environmental Criminology with common crowd behaviors and characteristics to assess the perspective's usefulness for understanding and preventing crowd-related crime. The conclusions of this exercise are combined with crowd research findings and psychological theory to offer police guidance in selecting interventions. A set of five principles is presented to assist the development of effective crowd management strategies.

The Police and Major Event Planning: A Case Study in Las Vegas, Nevada
by William H. Sousa University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Tamara D. Madensen University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The resort corridor of Las Vegas Boulevard, commonly known as 'The Strip', presents a variety of challenges to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) in terms of crime, disorder, crowd, and traffic management. These challenges are significantly amplified during major events, such as the annual New Year's Eve celebration. Using New Year's Eve as an example, this paper presents a case study of LVMPD's major event and crowd control planning. We utilize situational crime prevention as a theoretical framework to demonstrate the effectiveness of an approach specifically oriented toward reducing opportunities for harmful behavior. Based on a systematic analysis of LVMPD's discrete interventions, we identify two policy implications that will improve the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies at large-scale events.

Trick or Treat? Policing Halloween in Madison, Wisconsin
by Joel B. Plant, City of Madison Mayor's Office and Michael S. Scott, University of Wisconsin Law School & Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

This chapter describes a problem-oriented effort to improve the policing of an annual street party in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A. that had become intolerably disorderly. For three decades, the negative consequences of this event waxed and waned, producing widely varied levels of property damage, violence and public disorder. In 2002, the party erupted into a riot that resulted in extensive damage, injuries to citizens and police officers, looting of businesses, heightened public frustration, and the first deployment of tear gas in Madison since the Vietnam War protests. After this event, police officials, local government leaders and community stakeholders engaged in an iterative problem-solving process to restore order without terminating the event. This chapter describes the seven-year problem-solving process, fundamental lessons learned, and suggestions for future data collection and analysis.

Dialogue Policing – A Means for Less Crowd Violence?
by Stefan Holgersson, Stockholm Police Department and Johannes Knutsson, Norwegian Police University College

As a consequence of the failure of the police to control the riots during the EU-summit in Gothenburg in 2001, the police had to develop a new special tactic for crowd management. It is mobile, with special secured vehicles that are used for transporting and protecting the police officers. The vehicles are also used as tools to direct, escort, and stop demonstrators. The signal value from the police through the way the officers are deployed and how they use helmets, hats, tools of force, and cars to the demonstrators is given great consideration. By using a counterpart perspective, the police want to avoid actions that cause escalation. The aim is to achieve de-escalation. In this connection, dialogue police officers have an important function. Their task is to establish contact with the demonstrators before, during, and after the demonstration and to act as a link between the organizers of the events and the police commanders. Compared to the old tactic, the new uses a number of situational techniques that are known to have preventive effects. A dilemma for the dialogue police officers is pressure from the commanders to act as intelligence officers. Another is that other officers may be skeptical to their role. Development over time suggests, however, increasing acceptance.