Following the major riots within England in August 2011, the efficacy of public order police decision making was brought into a sharp focus. None the less, the reform of this mode of policing within the UK was already underway with a strong emphasis upon policing through consent and the need to facilitate peaceful protest through dialogue and communication. This paper reports upon a critical ‘test case’ for this ‘new approach’ by analysing the policing of a series of protests against Government policy across 3 days that surrounded a Government party conference in Sheffield, a large city in the north of England. This paper draws out lessons to be learned from what proved to be a highly successful dialogue-based approach to policing protests. We contend that dialogue and liaison were effective because they allowed for an ongoing dynamic risk assessment that improved command-level decision making and enhanced police proportionality. The subsequent impact upon crowd dynamics allowed for an improved capacity for proactive public order management, encouraged ‘self-regulation’ in the crowd, and avoided the unnecessary police use of force at moments of tension. The implications of the analysis for theory and practice are discussed.
|Journal||Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2012|