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An integrated approach to crowd psychology and public order policing

Stephen Reicher (School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, Fife, UK)
Clifford Stott (Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Patrick Cronin (Division of Psychology, University of Abertay Dundee, Dundee, UK)
Otto Adang (Dutch National Police Institute, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



This paper uses recent developments in crowd psychology as the basis for developing new guidelines for public order policing. Argues that the classical view of all crowd members as being inherently irrational and suggestible, and therefore potentially violent, is both wrong and potentially dangerous. It can lead to policing strategies that respond to the violence of some in the crowd by clamping down on all members, and therefore lead all members to perceive the police as hostile and illegitimate. In such conditions, even those who were initially opposed to violence may come to side with more conflictual crowd members and hence contribute to an escalation in the level and scope of collective conflict. This paper argues that police officers need to concentrate on understanding the collective identities, priorities and intentions of different groups in the crowd and give the same priority to facilitating the lawful intentions of some groups as to controlling the unlawful intentions of others.



Reicher, S., Stott, C., Cronin, P. and Adang, O. (2004), "An integrated approach to crowd psychology and public order policing", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 558-572.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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