Drunken goons, criminal idiots, and mayhem: Toward a police perspective on disorderly and riotous crowds

Date created: 
Police perspective
Crowd disorder

Crowd disorder, which refers to a wide range of both non-violent and violent public gatherings, involves a complex interaction between the crowd and the police (Stott & Reicher, 1998a). Given that the police are on the frontlines dealing directly with the crowd, they are in the unique position to understand the initiation and development of these crowd situations. Thus, their insights have the potential to offer valuable information for dealing with, and even preventing crowd disturbances. Despite an increased interest in understanding the police perspective, however, the vast majority of research has focused on the behaviour and perceptions of the crowd (Stott, 2003; Drury, Stott & Farsides, 2003). Further, the studies that have concentrated on the police viewpoint have been narrow in scope and predominantly conducted in Britain (e.g., Stott & Reicher, 1998a; Drury, Stott & Farsides, 2003). In an attempt to extend this literature, this thesis aims to develop the police perspective in a new context. Specifically, based on the events of the recent 2011 Stanley Cup riot, a sample of 460 Vancouver police officers was surveyed concerning their perceptions of the crowd and methods of crowd management. The results reveal that the while the police perspective can be reduced to four distinct factors, it becomes more complicated when the officers’ characteristics are introduced into the equation. The implications of these findings for both police departments and future researchers will be discussed.

Document type: 
Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed, but not for the text to be copied and pasted.
Senior supervisor: 
Garth Davies
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.