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Gender differences in understanding police perspectives on crowd disorder

Stephanie E. Dawson (Department of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)
Garth Davies (Department of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature and dynamics of crowd disorder from the perspective of the police in a Canadian context, as well as to extend this perspective to include the opinions of female police officers.


A total of 460 Vancouver police officers participated in this study. Following the 2011 Stanley Cup riot, police officers received mail-based questionnaires focussed on gathering information concerning police perceptions of the crowd and the police response in riot situations. A total of 15 response items were analysed using descriptive approaches and confirmatory factor analyses.


The study findings revealed that, in addition to being multidimensional, the police perspective of crowd disorder may be contingent upon certain officer characteristics. Although, the police perspective can generally be categorized by four overarching constructs: dichotomous crowd, homogeneous threat, strict policing and tactical response; it becomes more complex once the officers’ gender is taken into consideration. The results suggest that the male and female police officers may have some differing views about the nature of crowds and the type of police response required to manage disorderly crowd situations.


In addition to being the first study to analyse police perceptions of crowd disorder in a Canadian context, this research is the first to include the points of view of female officers.



This research was supported by SSHRC Small Grant No. 2012-631004-15732. The authors would like to extend their sincerest appreciation to the Vancouver Police Union.


Dawson, S.E. and Davies, G. (2017), "Gender differences in understanding police perspectives on crowd disorder", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 228-243.



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