Hendrickx, E. & van Ryckeghem, D. (1999). Conflict in Society: Policing in partnership? Community policing and public order policing, an integrated approach. Paper presented at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Seminar No. 4, 24 June.
Presenters: Eddie Hendickx and Dominique Van Ryckeghem
Eddie Hendrickx is Deputy-head of Operations of the Belgian Federal Police.
Dominique Van Ryckeghem is a Researcher for the Belgian Federal Police.
Date: 24 June 1999
Venue: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Johannesburg, South Africa
Rien ne naît brusquement dans l'histoire sociale et culturelle des hommes. De longues périodes préparatoires sont toujours nécessaires. (Théophile Obenga)
A policeman is only a person paid to perform, acts as a matter of duty, which, if he were so minded, he might have done voluntarily. (Royal Commission on Police Powers, 1929)
In every society, authoritarian or democratic, the authorities face a fundamental dilemma when people gather in the streets to manifest their discontent or express a specific opinion. More particularly in western democracies, the guaranteeing of individual and collective rights and liberties of all people implies that conflicts exist and may – and can - be expressed. Managing those conflicts without tampering with these rights and liberties has always proven to be an expensive and, more importantly, a controversial task.
Not only demonstrations, football hooliganism and inner city riots but also events such as cycle races or funfairs influence to a degree day-to-day life. In extreme circumstances, these events bring about huge costs for society, for example: the closing down of businesses, destruction of public property or the blocking of roads. These costs are not just financial. The way in which different sections of the population sometimes turn against each other and/or how the police behave can reverberate for a long time in many areas of society.
In spite of these findings, little fundamental research exists on these phenomena and their management by the police. Yet it is possible to observe a number of changes, both in general police practice and specifically in the field of public order policing.
As to the former, the community policing approaches with their emphasis on social integration of the police into local communities have produced not only numerous discussions and controversies but also concrete and valid initiatives. As to the latter, co-operation has proved to be the very essence of the change which has occurred in the domain of the preservation of order. Methods of consultation between protest groups and the police have materialised. The question remains however whether these changes were fundamental and whether they can be taken even further. Another question is whether experiences in or new opinions on community policing can create an impetus for new developments.
Therefore, in the first chapter we concentrate on examining community policing, how it evolved in a policing environment and how academics looked at it. We continue by asking whether community policing can provide a basic framework for all police practice.
The second chapter focuses on the changes in policing public order. Here we investigate social dynamics, how they relate to events and the police response to those dynamics and events.
Finally, in the third chapter, we discuss the use of the principles of Community Policing in the management of public space and their integration with public order policing.
2. The Value of Community Policing
The police are the public and the public are the police. (Sir Robert Peel)
Community policing is a concept that, since the 1960's, has received considerable attention within police departments of western democracies. The essence of community policing lies in the integration of the police into society and in co-operation with the community , thus aiming for a safe and harmonious environment.
A lack of a theoretical foundation has led to a situation in which community policing has become a catch- all term and sometimes an empty, buzz-word. Without questioning the aim and functioning of the police in society, the innovatory qualities and potential of community policing have remained limited.
2.2 Community Policing and Traditional Police Practice
2.2.1 Community policing: practice and paradigm
126.96.36.199 The practice of community policing
In Great-Britain and the USA the introduction of community policing was the outcome of the evaluation of existing unsatisfactory police practices.1 The police seemed isolated from communities and little real progress was made in the ongoing fight against crime. The policing of social unrest, demonstrations and soccer- related hooliganism was in most cases reactive and repressive. Moreover, because of increased displays of force by the police, the dissatisfaction and frustration of participants in these events was directed towards the police themselves.
Consequently, the police realised that, without a clear assessment of the needs and expectations of society, it would be impossible to create the necessary conditions in which a police organisation, accepted by and integrated into society, could operate. Community Policing wanted to achieve this ambition: to strengthen the ties with communities and, through these ties, gain a better understanding of underlying problems before implementing adequate police responses. This ambition led to a diversity of initiatives ('Neighbourhood Watch', 'Neighbourhood Oriented Policing', 'Foot Patrol', …), strategies ('Multi-Agency Policing, 'Team Policing', 'Neighbourhood Team Police', …) and methods ('Problem Oriented Policing').
Almost three decades later, the breach with the past, so-called traditional, police methods and responses seems fundamental. In the United States for example, half the police departments with an urban population of at least 50.000 people have implemented community policing in one way or another.2
188.8.131.52 Community policing as a paradigm
Also in academic circles, the so-called professional police model3 and related police actions, were scrutinised more and more.
The 'Problem-Oriented Approach' and the 'Broken Windows'-theory, as proposed by Goldstein (1979), and Wilson and Kelling (1982) respectively, were considered to be pioneering works in the re-definition of policing. The 'Problem-Oriented Approach' shifted attention away from symptoms of crime towards causes of crime and away from incidents towards the problems causing and fuelling them. The 'Broken Windows' theory suggested that the degradation of a neighbourhood caused feelings of insecurity and that the indicators of such degradation, like broken windows, were an invitation for disturbances and criminal activities. If the police wanted to tackle crime, they had every interest in bringing together communities and convincing them to invest in the neighbourhood itself.
Both theories together created a revolution in the way policing was perceived.4 They were the starting point for a new paradigm5 which, afterwards, was named community policing.
The emergence of this paradigm resulted in a plethora of publications, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. These described the concept in detail, and case studies illustrated or suggested how police departments should apply the new paradigm. Research focused on diverse aspects, from the general role of the police and communities, over managing feelings of insecurity, to a specific definition of the concept of community policing as such. As well as, and sometimes apart from this, an effort was made to include other research topics such as policing management, organisational structure, rural policing, methodology of implementation programmes, evaluation systems, stress management, use of force, etc.6
184.108.40.206 Community Policing: the relation between paradigm and practice
Although the academic interest contributed to a better, general understanding of the paradigm, the implementation and practical application proved to be very difficult. Even this improved understanding did not bring about a clear cut definition of what Community Policing really entailed.
Community Policing initiatives included, for instance, victim support, reinforced police presence in holiday resorts during public holidays, police organising preventative technical checks of cars, the involvement of civilians in policing activities. Eventually, community policing evolved from an ideal model and paradigm, operating closer to the communities and wished for by many, towards a kind of 'umbrella' covering and encompassing each new policing initiative in relation to the community as a whole or to individual citizens in particular.7
On closer examination, the breach with the past, most notably in the United States, has not proven to be so fundamental. The genuine influence of the community policing movement seldom reached further than the creation of a specific service within a police department. Moreover, implementation was hindered by a large number of failures, which soon gave way to hard and repressive policing thus creating the opposite of the intended effect.8
Despite many publications and research into different aspects of policing, it could be said that the new paradigm was developed and maintained without having enjoyed a sound theoretical foundation. On an academic level, the existence of such a foundation would have created the opportunity to direct all relevant research and evaluation.9 Such a foundation would have prevented the 'Broken Windows' theory being interpreted in the most divergent ways and also being, simultaneously, not only the seedbed for community policing but also the seemingly opposing - 'Zero Tolerance'-approach.
Moreover, in police circles, the lack of a sound foundation has led to community policing being implemented from traditional police thinking and assumptions.
2.2.2 "Control and Command":10 the traditional police approach
A fundamental aspect of the 'Control and Command' interpretation is on the one hand the systematic priority given to Order above Law and on the other hand an instrumental view of the police.
220.127.116.11 Control: Order above Law
The expression 'Law-and-Order', assuming the two words are not synonymous, is closely related to basic democratic principles.11
In a democratic society, the term 'Law' stands for the fundamental rights and liberties of all people. The supremacy of the law means that a majority may never suppress a minority, but, on the contrary, have to grant them rights. The term 'Order' indicates those major values in society that are based on the (silent) approval of the majority and derive their legitimacy from this approval. In ambiguous or contradictory situations a democracy owes it to itself to put Law above Order:guaranteeing the rights of a minority has to prevail over defending of the values of the majority. In other words, maintaining the pact that unites majority and minority has to prevail in all circumstances, even to the detriment of the beliefs or passions of the majority.12
On the level of policing actions the sequence of the two words is often inverted: Order comes before Law. In doing this, the meaning of the words also changes. For a police officer, Order means the state authority which he/she embodies and represents.13 The Law is the foundation which legitimises this authority. For public order policing issues, the Law is often ambiguous. In some countries, for instance in France, the Law is very precise when it comes to breaches of the Law which demonstrators may or may not commit but is not as clear about the means the police are to use and what action they are to take.14 Moreover, the choice of means and methods employed is often left to the police themselves.
This sometimes ambiguous nature of the Law often challenges, twofold, the principles of democracy itself. The first is the necessity to reconcile antithetic rights (for instance the right to demonstrate and the right of others to move about freely at the same time). The second is that collective protest and the use of violence during mass events are a signal to political and responsible bodies that they might have failed in their responsibilities. Even outbursts of soccer related hooliganism might, to some extent, be caused by social inequity and need something more than police action.
On the other hand, the ambiguity of the Law provides more autonomy to the police. For this reason, the police, as an organisation and the policemen as individuals, have come to look upon public spaces as something akin to their privileged playing fields. Here the police exercise their powers and authority to the fullest. Every public gathering is perceived as a potential disturbance of the public order and is considered a threat to the Order. Therefore and with this in mind, every police action in this context, has only one goal: to control groups which threaten or disturb the Order.
18.104.22.168 Command: The instrumental view of the police
In totalitarian regimes the police, and sometimes the army, are used as an instrument of power. In democratic societies however, where all prerogatives are defined and subject to the law, the police appear as the institution that helps guarantee the protection of constitutional rights and applies them for the benefit of all. Therefore the police, by law, have been given the right to use force. How they are to use these powers are laid down by specific laws.15 For the police(officer), this/these law(s) and the guidelines that come with them are compulsory and restrictive. The police have to implement them. It is not deemed necessary that the police, either as an organisation or as individual policemen and policewomen have to have their actions or decisions subjected to outside scrutiny or critical reflection.
This view of the police and policemen is an instrumental view. The important, but only, difference from the police of totalitarian regimes is that they are not a mere tool in the hands of the state authorities, but that they are serving -and are instruments of an order, a government and a law.16 This view of the police has generated at least three problems:
The first is that the police are supposed to be able, at any given time, to provide a response to any incident or occurrence. For many problems in society, the police response is frequently the only one provided. Yet, the police, by themselves, cannot solve problems: other bodies also have their responsibilities in these matters.
The second problem is that the instrumental view of the police holds a certain danger for democracy. From this viewpoint, the police can only be put into action on command or guidelines by police authorities. In this view, there is for instance no question of shared responsibility between the authorities with a policing power, the police organisation itself and the communities which they are deemed to serve.17
The third problem is that the police, however sophisticated they might be, are never the perfect image of the instrument which the authorities believe them be.
Every police force is first and foremost an organisation that works with people. The work processes imply organisational mechanisms that cannot be reduced to the rationality of the people who lead them. There is no formal organisation without an informal one.18 Moreover, every professional group, which defines itself by its exclusive competencies, develops certain interests as well as a professional culture. Organisational mechanisms, informal rules and professional culture together are the filter through which the rules of law are selected and applied19 In this sense they influence the most central and probably most universal characteristic of police work: the operational autonomy of the police or the individual police man/woman, the so-called discretionary powers. This influence is sometimes negative, or at least, not always in accordance with imperatives from higher up.20
Consequently, the instrumental view implies a gap between police authorities (the police as an instrument) and police practice (the police as an organisation and as a profession). The size of this gap can vary (it will for example be minimal in a dictatorship) but the gap itself is always present.
2.2.3 'Control and Command': the starting point for community policing
In spite of often good intentions, a large number of community policing programmes are criticised both in their conception and in their concrete results. One of the reasons for this is the vagueness of the concept. When policing choices or decisions had to be made there was no alternative other than to fall back on the 'Control and Command'-approach discussed above. From an historical evolution and perception in police thinking and the assumptions of authorities, this kind of reasoning remained the only one possible. 'Control and Command'-thinking as the starting point for community policing has brought about a number of risks.
22.214.171.124 'Order above Law' as a remaining starting-point for community policing
The word 'Community' refers to the community as a whole. In reality, however, the police are often confronted with a diversity of groups within the community having different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The word 'Community' does not give the police a hint as to which groups to address. Often the police are, because of their own history, only taking care of the intentions and values of the majority and do not focus of minorities.
A lot depends on what is understood by community policing' and which goals are to be reached.
A first goal is the reduction of subjective feelings of insecurity,21 an increased satisfaction of the citizen with the police and the development of a policing approach that fulfils the expectations of the whole population.22
A second goal, and this is where a step across the limits is taken, lies in the use of the police contributing to enforce - possibly even to define - prevailing values and norms.23 However, enforcing prevailing values and standards can easily switch to reducing tolerance towards individuals or groups who do not share these values and standards.24
Depending on the goal to be reached, the question arises whether the police are at the service of a part of the community or if the police have to take into account the whole of the community. To favour a part of the community undermines the neutrality of the police. More specifically, it carries the danger that its members, consciously or unconsciously, become the agents of social control.
126.96.36.199 The instrumental view of the police as a lasting starting-point for community policing
Community policing allows, or is deemed to allow, policemen space and opportunity to take initiatives. Due to the fact that the police remain first and foremost an instrument, they are at the same time the implementers of a policing strategy. In this strategy, controlling is of more importance than supporting.25 Guidelines and imposed schemes of thought have always been applied in community policing-projects. These imply the risk that policemen will basically start up projects or initiatives only fitting those expectations of their own hierarchy and/or of the police authorities.
These expectations offer, together with the informal rules of the professional culture, the only foothold for the police officer in his/her discretionary powers. In these dynamics, not one single mechanism, guaranteeing the conformity with democratic premises, such as the safeguarding of the rights of all people, exists. As long as these mechanisms remain non existent, initiatives, in their intent or in their result, stray from those democratic premises (for instant the initiation of a 'Zero Tolerance'-approach on a local level).
2.3 Community policing an alternative point of view
That fact that Order has always prevailed over Law and that the police were considered an instrument, is probably the most important cause for community policing not being able to surpass local implementation levels. Community Policing has always been judged by its concrete results and less by its intrinsic possibilities.
2.3.1 Law and Order
A first possibility is that the safeguarding of individual and collective rights and liberties in a democratic society, is the basis for defining the place and functioning of the police in a society. It is here that Law prevails over Order; the guaranteeing of the basic rights for all is a priority.
Moreover, the Law expresses a certain form of contract26 between government and society. The 'contract' refers to the democratic values in society, as principles through which society organises and legitimises itself. In contrast to the instrumental view of the police, in which laws are first and foremost compulsory and limiting in character, the democratic values form the basis and the inspiration for the police functioning. The police support, in co-operation with other partners, the implicit values of the Law in society. Therefore they have to be a body in civil society just like, for example, the Press, and social and educational institutions etc.27
2.3.2 The police a body in society
Law and Order, in this scenario, remains the police's line of approach. Yet, the police approach must be supplemented by a direct contribution from society and the groups which it contains. Herein lies the second possibility of community policing. As a body in civil society, the police guard and safeguard, together with other partners, basic rights.
Society expects the police to take into account its needs and wishes within the margins of the "contract" provided by the Law. This can vary from traffic information to an efficient tackling of criminality and to manage of discontent or protest. Apart from this, the community has the right to a police service accountable for decisions and actions taken. The police must explain for instance why certain areas are more patrolled than others.
Using the possibilities of community policing to the fullest and fine tuning police practice to this philosophy, demands real commitment from the authorities and the police together.
In this commitment, the police are first and foremost tied to the 'contract' which the authorities, through the existence of the Constitution and the Laws, have with the community. At the same time, and not withstanding this, direct co-operation with communities and/or authorities must also be possible. Actions the police take and means they use, are granted by virtue of the current police laws; moreover, they are the exclusive domain of the police: only they have been granted the mandate.
Finally, applying this commitment to the managing of public spaces is not an easy task. One of the most important reasons being the antagonism between "Law and Order" and "Order and Law" the core of this management.
In the next chapter, we describe the historical evolutions of police practice managing public spaces in western democracies. From a democratic point of view these evolutions can certainly be called positive. At the same time, they materialised from a traditional way of thinking.
3. To Maintain and to Restore Public Order
The difference between the quasi-military and the civil policeman is that the civil policeman should have no enemies. People may be criminals, they may be violent, but they are not enemies to be destroyed.
(John Alderson 1979)
In most countries, the task of policing the public environment is defined as maintaining and restoring public order. In this chapter we will look at the basic traditional frameworks which apply to the organisation of the public environment. Following this, we will sketch out the social dynamics which have led to the processes of "pacification" and "harmonisation" in the western democracies. Both will be commented on.
3.2 The traditional frameworks applying to the organisation of the public environment: 'Control and Command'
In countries which have a tradition of Napoleonic policing the organisation of the public environment is referred to as 'public order'. This is defined as ' the conditions of peace, safety and health which must exist in society and which governments (and other governing bodies) should strive to achieve in order to uphold constitutional rights and to facilitate that society's harmonious development'.28
It goes without saying that, according to the above definition, the police do not stand alone. The administrative and judicial authorities and other bodies concerned with providing aid and support are important partners in ensuring the above-defined concept becomes a practical reality.
The components of public order (peace, safety and health) are not seen as having equivalence in a 'Control and Command' scenario putting Order above Law. In such a scenario' Order' is only too easily interpreted as being those police measures taken when public disturbances occur. Also, when disturbances appear the involvement of other bodies is minimal.
If the concept of public order is limited simply to 'maintaining' order then this interpretation is of prime importance when police practice is being considered. The task of policing subsequently described as 'maintaining and restoring public order' is a pars pro toto: public order- that is the peace, safety and health as one whole - becomes reduced to one part - namely the 'maintaining' or 'upholding' of order. As this is chiefly dependant on decisions taken by persons or bodies with political responsibilities the upholding of order is the police task in which the symbiosis between the police and their supervisory authorities becomes most evident.
This symbiotic relationship, according to its own specific logic, supposes that, from the moment a section of the public intends taking to the streets they are a potential threat to public order; any disorder must of course be controlled and reduced. Should incidents occur, the police could be made scapegoats if anything goes wrong, perhaps due to media coverage or actions of pressure groups.
In the purely 'Control and Command'-approach, the most effective and professional option for dealing with the difficulties involved in maintaining order is the paramilitary one. Here the police decide on the measures and techniques to be used during their operations. In essence this approach comprises:
- a strong hierarchy of command and disciplined men;
- extensive training related to the use of force;
- the availability of appropriate equipment;
- operations carried out by very mobile, quasi-military units; and
- regarding those responsible for the disturbance(s) as opponent(s).29
The para-military option starts from the assumption that a disciplined response from a co-ordinated and omni-present, representative police force is extremely efficient and leads to fewer cases of individual violence than would a response which is neither prepared nor organised.
3.3 Comments on 'Control and Command'
In practice the para-military option tends to encourage (and heighten) rather than discourage (and therefore lessen) the use of force by police and demonstrators. The reasons for this are of both an organisational and operational nature. Moreover this option appears to have a certain effect on the 'opponents'. While practical experience tends to suggest a rather limited level of effectiveness, the 'Control and Command' option is undoubtedly coupled with a higher financial and social cost.
3.3.1 The implications of the paramilitary option
188.8.131.52 The organisational implications
Within a 'Control and Command' scenario the police have remained a closed, bureaucratic organisation with their own rules and procedures. As a result of this, solutions for the dormant dilemma between Law or Order could only be found within the bounds of the organisation.
The solution consisted of institutionalising the dilemma trough the creation of police components with their own specific responsibilities. One component of the police would deal with the daily maintenance of negotiated order (local police work) while the other (specialised) component was given the task of, in cases of disturbances, restoring legitimately imposed order.30
There are, for example in France and Italy, different sections of the police dealing either with local policing or upholding order. There is a historical reason for this: countries with a Napoleonic tradition had in fact created state police forces to uphold order; while on the other hand through demands from local communities local policing developed.31
England and the United States have never had centralised policing. For a long time the maintenance of order was a task for the local police. Moreover the local police developed a genuine tradition of 'community relations' which we would now call 'Community Policing.'
However since the Eighties these countries have also - in response to a raised level of political and social protest - brought into action specifically - trained and specialised units.32/33 This response turned these police forces into political instruments.34 Moreover in this way they brought in what we might call a 'Trojan horse' – paramilitary input actually undermining local ('Community')policing.
In the United States day to day policing has certainly become military in outlook. The police now undertake their normal daily duties carrying weapons and special equipment. In some states they have gone as far as using the specialist units in the context of this everyday community policing.35 In England as well, community relations, previously such a strong point, took a turn very much for the worse. In both countries serious efforts had to be made to restore the public image of the police which had suffered a serious blow.36
In short, specialised police units, regardless of their historical framework, will sooner or later come to stand apart from the remainder of the police service and from society. This, combined with ongoing training focusing on the inherent dangers of the work, the importance of thinking and being a closely-knit team, regarding fellow citizens involved in demonstrations as 'opponents' and moreover feeding the belief of participating in so called 'real police' work, creates a subculture which melds only too easily with an already military-oriented, organisational structure and culture.
184.108.40.206 The operational implications
Within this 'Control and Command' scenario , professionalism stands for a thorough preparation of police operations. Such thorough preparation for situations involving public unrest implies being prepared for the worst. This 'worst case scenario' therefore dominates and determines the resources to be made available. This leads to operations which 'occupy', 'deny access', ' prepare arrests', etc. The nuisance and discomfort caused to third parties by such an approach is regarded as being of minimal importance.
A direct result of this is the deployment of large numbers of men, trained and equipped to deal with the worst possible eventualities and prepared at any moment to face up to and deal with them. Moreover the majority of these men are usually held back in reserve or on stand-by waiting for this hypothetical riot to break out. This kind of approach can have a very negative effect on their behaviour and attitude.37
This attitude, along with the visible deployment of vehicles, men, equipment and special resources will have a mainly negative influence on the interaction between police, those taking part in the event and third parties who become involved incidentally.
220.127.116.11 The impact on the 'opponents'
The deployment of vast numbers of men trained and equipped to uphold public order, along with their (armoured) vehicles has a provocative effect on crowds and/or on individuals in the crowd.38 The measure of provocation and the subsequent group dynamics which develop between police and crowd depend among other things on the bias involved and the nature of the crowd. Moreover these dynamics may extend well beyond the time and place of the operation in question.
Firstly, the police have a certain image of the group coming onto the streets.39 Within a certain professional culture which emphasises solidarity within the group, male presence, political conservatism and the readiness to use force, it is impossible for the stereotyping of "the others" to be anything but negative. You already see the writing on the wall when the words 'opponent' or 'adversary' are used within the police. Within communities there is often prejudice against the police, as in 'all policemen are racist' or 'all policemen are fascists'.40
Secondly, the group dynamics which develop between the police and crowd depend, among other things, on the make-up of the crowd and the context in which everything takes place. Soccer supporters will have different motives and interests to those of people taking to the streets with purely political or socio- economic demands. For those who already feel marginalised politically and take to the streets for this reason ,a show of force is the ultimate provocation: police repression only confirms their marginal status.41
Thirdly, through (among other things) anger and frustration at the show of force, the riots or disturbances may move to another time or place.42 Confrontations occur at the margins of an event. They happen before or after the football match or demonstration and outside the stadium or the agreed route of a demonstration. They occur out of the direct line- of- sight of the police or, because of the previously -identified causes, may be directed at the police themselves.
In this way the image the antagonists have of each other can only be magnified. The police remain convinced of the para-military option: it is the only good one, leaving as it does nothing to chance. Those taking part in the event/demonstration have their view of the police -as the representatives of state authority- confirmed.
The same conclusions were drawn by D. Wisler (1997) who studied the various approaches used by public order services during the last 30 years in the Swiss cantons. According to Wisler there is no mono- causality explaining the occurrence of violence. The most important determining factors have however been identified, namely the coercive police practices and the antagonistic cultural identities of police and demonstrators. For example, the paramilitary approach of the public order services in Zurich43 resulted in an increase in violence: from 6.2% in the period from 1965-1979 to 14.1% in the period 1980-1994.
During the same periods Geneva44 with its tradition of tolerance and opting for a reduced public police presence noted a decrease of 14.1% to 4.8%.
3.3.2 The cost of the para-military option
The deployment and maintenance of a large number of specially equipped men, vehicles and required special means is immensely expensive. In extremis, perfect control of population groups requires a one to one approach. The example of the nuclear transport demonstrations in Germany where 25,000 policemen were used to restrain 20,000 demonstrators speaks only too eloquently for itself.
Moreover the para-military option goes hand in hand with long periods of inactivity. This inactivity occurs on two levels. When there are no public order disturbances taking place the special units are, for the most part, technically unemployed. Alongside this, there is the inactivity during the operation itself: all the men must spend a great deal of their time just waiting, while some units are simply held in reserve and are not always required.
Finally it is apparent that local police, after an intervention by these special units, need to invest a lot of time and energy in re-establishing trust within the community. Experiences in the United Kingdom and the United States show us that after periods of social unrest that have been dealt with by way of this 'Control and Command' approach the local police receive extra funding to enable them to resume their normal policing functions.45
The social cost, by which we mean, the negative image of the police and along with this the distrust this engenders within the community, can only increase when specialised units are brought into play. This is certainly the case with minority and marginalised groups which - in this 'Control and Command' approach tend to receive special attention from the police.
3.4 Social dynamics within the framework of social evolution, conflicts and demonstrations
3.4.1 Theoretical approaches to public disorder
The theories which have held sway for almost a century in scientific discourses on order and disturbances of order have consistently ignored a number of empirical realities. For example they have ignored the fact that the majority of public gatherings remain peaceful. Moreover the various theories try to limit the explanation of the phenomenon of the disturbance of order to one single factor. Psychological, sociological or political factors have been examined, but always in isolation, not in conjunction with each other or with other variables. Consequently the activities of any group were reduced to a psychologically generated attitude, a sociologically defined situation or a politically motivated struggle.46 The common starting point of these reductionist theories is to view the disturbance of order as a threat to the social fabric and harmony.
Since the Seventies and Eighties there has been a noticeable change: disturbances of order and corresponding patterns of group behaviour are no longer regarded purely as negative and threatening. During the last 30 years and parallel to the evolution in the theoretical field, we have seen, especially in the western democracies, a process of what we might term 'pacification' applied to the problem of public order disturbances.47 This 'pacification' process has two main components: the acceptance or 'institutionalisation' of demonstrations and the development of negotiated public order management.
3.4.2 The institutionalisation of demonstrations
In many countries the end of the cold war has marked the beginning of a new era. The major social conflicts, resulting in battles with the police services and leading to numerous arrests, are, saving a few exceptions, a thing of the past. Demonstrations pose less of a threat to the state and are part of the normal democratic process.48
Civil disobedience is no longer equated with anarchy.49 In France, for example, only 5% of demonstrations appear to result in violence to persons or public or private property.50 Demonstrators and demonstrations have become progressively 'institutionalised'. To demonstrate has become a common and conventional form of political participation.51
The protest groups themselves have become more professional in their approach by, for example, training their own 'stewards' to keep order during demonstrations. Relations between pressure groups and governments are increasingly assuming a more institutionalised and interdependent character.
The demonstrators or the organisations that they represent , can scarcely still be called marginal or even politically dissident; they organise their demonstrations in a totally legal manner.52 The pressure groups are becoming part of the establishment rather than being in opposition to it. At the same time the police organisations as such have become more professional, both in their approach and in the way they deploy collective and individual materiel.53
3.4.3 From escalation in the use of force to a negotiated management
From the end of the Sixties and into the beginning of the Seventies an evolution in the way authorities and police services deal with demonstrations can be perceived. The student protests of May '68 and the demonstrations against the war in Vietnam were met, world wide, with severity and the deployment of large numbers of police resources. Breaking up the demonstrations and arresting the maximum number of people became in itself a goal.
Since then, mainly due to the pressure of public opinion, both demonstrators and police have come to develop a system of improved (negotiated) management of public order. Key characteristics of this are the dialogue and negotiations (which have now become acceptable) between demonstrators and the authorities, improved preparation and planning of events, and the professional way in which protests are organised.54
For the police this has meant leaving behind pure repressive strategies. Essentially this boils down to:
- delaying the use of force and declining to see the use of force as the ultimate solution;
- the use of selective, repressive interventions which are aimed at so-called trouble makers;
- permanent contact with organising bodies;
- laying down beforehand the limits of the infractions which will be tolerated and will not result in the use of force by the police.55
However, good will and the keeping of agreements always remains conditional: the demonstrators must play by the rules.56 By showing themselves to be responsible partners in a constructive dialogue, they are giving continued support to the process of pacification.
3.4.4 Exceptions to the process of pacification
This line of thinking does not extend to those individuals or groups who, for a variety of reasons, remain outside the 'institutionalised' limits or spontaneously demonstrate, whether or not violence is intended. Football hooliganism falls into this category as does the phenomenon of violence in many city centres and in suburbs of cities across Europe.
In the face of such, often spontaneous, demonstrations the police are confronted with a fundamental dilemma. On the whole these spontaneous demonstrations are more likely to lead to violence than those which have been authorised beforehand and the police are unable to fall back on negotiations with those causing the disorder. The police appear to have no response ready other than that of taking a hard line.57
Even when demonstrations, which fall within the accepted framework, do not keep to the rules and/or step over tolerable limits, police intervention is swift and uncompromising. The iron fist of the police is once more apparent.58
One of the most striking examples of such an aggressive approach is the treatment meted out to soccer supporters. From the moment the visiting fans arrive, either at the railway station or car parks, they are met with an impressive show of police force, dogs and mounted police included.
3.5 Comments on the social dynamics within the framework of social evolutions, conflicts and demonstrations
3.5.1 The limits to theoretical approaches to public disturbances
Conflict, far more than peace and harmony, is a basic fact of life. It is inherent in society. We are all confronted with differences of opinion and arguments: these are situations where the subject is negotiable and a compromise can be found relatively quickly and easily. Real conflicts lead to deadlock and stalemate with no 'made to measure' solutions available.59
Conflict is usually perceived as being principally negative. Within this perception conflict falls outside the realms of normality and harmony. Anger is the dominant emotion. A more positive perception would imply a vision of a dynamic rather than static society. Viewed in this way conflict becomes the feeding ground for social change, strengthening group cohesion, stimulating co-operation and so making reconciliation a possibility. Positive perception also offers a different image of mankind: a people in the process of change rather than remaining forever paralysed by conflict.
Essentially there are two ways of responding to conflict: either by tackling the roots of the conflict ('conflict resolution') or by accepting conflicts as they occur and manage them ('conflict management'). Within the 'conflict resolution' framework the approach to problem solving has two implications. Firstly the cause of the conflict must be addressed rather than simply treating the symptoms: if the cause is not dealt with efficiently then all that remains is control and/or management of conflict. Secondly there must be an analytical approach to the conflict, with assumptions being questioned. Otherwise the nature and causes of conflicts will never be discovered.60
The 'Control and Command' perspective assumes that order and not conflict is a fundamental and normal element of society. Moreover, the police and community are looked upon as antagonists when Order is challenged when people might take to the streets. Thus the parties concerned ,when dealing with the problem of maintaining order, can only come to an agreement based on how the conflict should be managed. Over the last few decades the effect of this compromise, due to the process of institutionalisation and negotiated management, has come to the fore.
3.5.2 The limits of institutionalisation
The process of institutionalisation does not in itself have only positive consequences. The dynamics of demonstrations are seen more and more as a peaceful and legitimate way of expressing opinions. This institutionalisation or normalisation is due not only to the organisational and communication skills of the protest groups, nor their social commitment, but also to their (sometimes positive) feelings towards political authorities.
Consequently a number of protest groups have remained outside the 'pacification' process. For such groups the use of force is possibly the last remaining card they can play. It is precisely this violence, unacceptable to the majority of the population, which justifies, according to the traditional outlook, the use of a repressive police approach to a certain number of minority groups.61
The ongoing development of the process of 'pacification' and the input of both parties must, in any case, be put into perspective. It is namely the movement towards institutionalisation (and not, for example, a fundamentally changed police service) which has proved the departure point leading to a change in police conduct. The know-how and methods employed by the police, along with the legal infrastructure necessary for the management of public gatherings have always been a reaction to the changing repertoire of actions taken by contentious groups. This is why the whole process of 'pacification 'is itself dependent on the evolution in social conflicts, with regressive police action a possible consequence.
Moreover the chance of regression appears real when one sees the extent of differing interpretations demonstrators place on negotiated management.
For example: when asked what they found to be the least acceptable of the police procedures, demonstrators answered 'the use of tear gas and water cannons'. They would prefer to be arrested. The police see things differently and use another gradual approach. To them, it is logical that if there are fewer arrests then this is a sign of good management.62
3.5.3 The limits of negotiated management
The possibility of regression is also present when one looks at the negotiated management from the police point of view. Here the limits can be seen on two levels:
- in the continuing paramilitary spirit of operational preparations, and in the treatment meted out to those individuals or groups who, during the police operations, do not follow the rules of play;
- among the police and their perception of reality.
18.104.22.168 The enduring paramilitary spirit
When preparing an operation it is still the 'worst case scenario' which remains the starting point. The burning questions raised during these preparations refer to the number of personnel required (in riot gear), including the presence of reserves, their deployment and the presence of specialised equipment. Intelligence/ information gathered beforehand forms the basis for the answers to these questions.
During the operation the paramilitary spirit will manifest itself as soon as, for whatever reason, the negotiated management fails: The machinery then inevitably springs into action.
The nature of the basic assumptions made by the police and which go back to the 'Control and Command' scenario have never changed. The evolution in police action, from power escalation to negotiated management, in fact, happened within this thought process.
In reaction to the changes in the very nature of demonstrations the police have moved from offensive to defensive strategy with negotiation being the keyword.
It is argued in police circles that the force used is determined by and must keep pace with the course of events during the conflict. Even in recent police views on the matter, the focus remains on police actions and police conduct being a direct reaction to that of the demonstrators and/or those disturbing the peace.63
Police practice is determined more by these outside phenomena and changes than by a vision on the role and functions of the police in society.64
If, in general terms, the defensive strategy fails (institutionalisation comes to an end) or in more specific terms (rules of play are not being followed), then falling back on the offensive strategy is almost a logical consequence.
22.214.171.124 The police and their perception of reality
The 'worst case scenario' argument shows a certain lack of trust regarding the 'adversaries' and the information they provide. This distrust is graduated, depending on the ideals involved and/or those prejudices existing towards certain groups within the population. Such distrust is also graduated according to the manner in which these groups protest.
We have already shown how the paramilitary option goes hand in hand with opposing culture groups. In the past the culture of the protesters, whoever they might have been, was completely opposed to that of the police.
Studies in France have shown however that, within the system of negotiated management, the idea of opposing cultures still exists, albeit more subtly.65 The police operate on the basis of a distinction between 'good' and 'bad' demonstrators. Good demonstrators are those with aims considered legitimate and with whom one can negotiate. This legitimacy is precisely dependent upon the way the police perceive reality. The professional ideology of the CRS in France shows for instance how, possibly due to the fact that so many of them are recruited from within the farming and workers' communities, they are sympathetic towards demands made by employees but show a certain amount of peevishness towards 'students-privileged youth- trouble makers without just cause'.66
In this chapter it has become apparent that the management of the public environment from a 'Control and Command' perspective encounters several stumbling blocks. In the previous chapter we illustrated some potentials of 'Community Policing.' The question is whether we can overcome the shortcomings of the 'Control and Command' approach, regarding the management of the public environment, by making full use of the potential of community policing.
4. Crowd Management and the Protection of Persons, Goods, and Institutions
The real art of policing a free society or a democracy is to win by appearing to lose.
(London Metropolitan Police 1829)
4.1 A community policing approach as a possible alternative to 'Control and Command' and as a possible answer to the social dynamics seen within the framework of social evolution, social conflict and demonstrations
4.1.1 An alternative approach to the management of the public environment
At this stage, the question arises as to whether the possibilities of community policing, as defined in a previous chapter, are relevant to the organisation of the public environment.
126.96.36.199 Law and Order
The police are involved primarily in the observance of individual and collective rights and the freedoms of all persons. If we apply such a concept to the organisation of the public environment then the definition of maintaining and restoring public order is no longer valid. The key issue is namely not only public order and how it is disrupted, but the upholding of democratic rights such as the right to assemble, to demonstrate or - in general - the right of free speech.
With a community policing approach this police task is better defined as 'crowd management'. As crowds, by their very nature, have the potential to limit the constitutional rights and freedoms of others, including non-participants, we shall elaborate by adding 'and the protection of persons, goods and institutions'. The police no longer have a purely defensive role but essentially organise a succession of protective assignments or duties designed to safeguard the interests of all those concerned.
The police must recognise and uphold the values in the 'contract', written in law, between government and people. Thus, in the context of 'crowd management and the protection of persons, goods and institutions' their role lies in a continual search for the right balance between guiding and supporting protests while ensuring the minimal amount of disruption and/or damage ensues.
188.8.131.52 The police as a body in society
The police are no longer first and foremost an instrument in the hands of the authorities to be used in cases of public disturbances. Firstly, the needs and wishes of all concerned, demonstrators as well as those suffering disruption due to the protest, are taken into account. Secondly, the police are accountable to all parties concerned: the taking of certain measures or initiatives can be explained beforehand, made clear afterwards, and defended if necessary.
One consequence of this new approach may be found in the increased respect and understanding between different parties and standpoints. This raised level of tolerance between the concerned parties may lead to a better understanding of each other's real intentions. In this way the attitudes and behaviour of all those involved is seen as being less provocative. This provides a real opportunity for the police service to improve its public image and facilitate other police work.
184.108.40.206 A community policing approach demands commitment
The approach to policing civilian society must form one whole: in the end the police have only one role and that is to provide a service. This role must be clear to the police themselves. It is inconsistent to consider the community as both partner and opponent. Police organisations which, in one way or the other, take a community policing approach to one assignment and at the same time use a 'Control and Command' approach to another have, so far, not been very succesful.67
This role of providing a service must, at the same time, be clear to the population. They can only understand the police's role if the police themselves are coherent and consistent in their approach. No section of the population should feel unfairly treated or feel that the police are biased against them.
Such a well-thought-out, linear approach can only have a positive effect on the motivation of police officers themselves and on the image they present.
220.127.116.11 A commitment to community policing generates a positive image
On the one hand, crowds of protestors have a relatively high news value because of the political tension they can generate. Violence in particular, and especially police violence, is always considered newsworthy. It is for this reason that the role of policing and managing the public environment often receives much more attention than other policing tasks.
On the other hand, the media decide how an event should be reported or filmed. Within a 'Control and Command' scenario the media tend to be in the 'opponents' camp ( unless the police through unofficial connections have a 'friendly' media). This way, the police always appear to be one step behind.
To a great extent the public image of the police is determined by their methods of crowd management. This was also the conclusion of the Scarman report68 (71): the hard line approach of the police when dealing with social unrest not only shattered the existing relationship between police and the community but also engendered a strong distrust of the police.
When using the community policing approach the media becomes a partner. Providing reliable information before, during and after an event to the media enables them to place whatever police methods were used in dealing with a particular crowd of protesters within a general police context. Consequently their own judgement and /or interpretation of events will be better-informed.
4.1.2 An alternative answer to the social dynamics of social evolution, conflicts and demonstrations
18.104.22.168 The basic assumptions
The commitment to community policing as described earlier turns traditional police frames of reference upside down. The basic assumptions concerning the organisation of the public environment are focused on the individual rights and freedoms of all concerned, the search for the right balance in the guiding of 'protest' with as little damage as possible to third parties and with trust forming the basis of communication with the community. These assumptions provide better foundations on which to further build and develop the negotiated management of (organised or spontaneous) public gatherings or crowds. Other fundamental elements in this process will be an in-depth examination of society and conflicts, of the relationship between crowds and conflicts, and an acknowledgement of the characteristics common to all public gatherings.
22.214.171.124 The social dynamics and the institutionalisation of demonstrations
Every society undergoes change and has its own dynamics. Conflict is inherent in this. Solutions do exist to disputes and conflicts although implementing these solutions practically and successfully depends on personal, political, socio - economic and institutional contexts.
When lasting solutions to certain conflicts cannot be found then this is principally when public gatherings will occur. Public gatherings may contribute to reaching a solution, therefore they ought to be given support and guidance. Public gatherings do not necessarily have to be the result of underlying conflicts. Cycle races and music festivals are also public gatherings. Although not all public gatherings result from conflict, they all carry in them the potential to become conflictual as they always have implications for third parties. Sometimes it is impossible to tell when and where these conflictual characteristics manifest themselves: before or during the gathering. Sometimes these characteristics are not homogeneous: one can only guess at the different motivations of soccer supporters. However, factual data on these characteristics and their motivation are also a part of the social dynamics for which possible solutions exist, even if they are not always apparent.
Together with the a fore-mentioned institutionalisation, all current public gatherings manifest a number of empirical realities who are common to all crowds and disorder:69
- most crowds remain orderly;
- disorder most commonly occur in specific types of economic, political or ideological contexts;
- disorder often involve ordinary members of the public who do not
- otherwise commit criminal acts; not all members of a crowd or community participate in disorder but those who do often have the tacit or open support of the rest;
- disorder is frequently spontaneous but there are identifiable patterns of communication prior to and during disorder;
- disorder is frequently purposive, selective and limited in its nature and form;
- far from being innocent bystanders or victims, the police usually play a significant role in forestalling or provoking disorder.
The above elements, combined with the commitment to community policing form a possible basis for furthering the negotiated management of public gatherings.
126.96.36.199 The negotiated management of public gatherings
The police must be able to follow closely and correctly identify the social developments regarding crowds and their changing social importance (73). It is important that the police, in response to these developments, formulate adequate answers, in accordance with their commitment to ' Community Policing'. The potential for ad hoc decisions, leading to a (too) rapid falling back on offensive strategies, techniques or tactics will thus be minimised. Such regression is, in some cases, still made possible by the dominant 'Control and Command' inspired preparation and handling of operations and the police perception of what is really happening.
The community policing commitment must be evident in the preparation of operations and the manner in which the event itself is handled. If in reality the majority of public gatherings are proven to take place peacefully, this seems to indicate that the preparations for an operation do not have to stem from the 'worst case scenario'. These preparations will be more likely to benefit from a realistic analysis of most probable scenarios, where the interests of all concerned, and not only those of the participants, are taken into account.
This approach implies that other (additional) questions will dominate preparations. Along with the characteristics common to all public gatherings, the specific context in which they take place becomes very important: this context must therefore be included in the analysis of most probable scenarios. More diversified answers and an approach which responds to the needs of the public gathering then become possible.
Police culture remains a tough issue. Here too, foundations need to be reconstructed, or at least, a serious change of emphasis is necessary. A highly-imbued, professional ethic, based on the commitment to community policing, the provision of services, respect and discipline, must be the guidelines for the police in their day to day work. As far as crowd management is concerned, the concept of the crowd and police being antagonists is out. It is, for example , not up to the police to distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' demonstrators. It is their job to formulate the best possible answer to the needs of a specific group of demonstrators. This answer should be found by an objective study of the general and specific characteristics, rather than by a perception filtered through a 'Control and Command'-culture.
4.2 A different look at community policing and conflict: the versatile role of the police
4.2.1 'Control and Command' and 'Community Policing': the role of the police
In the pure 'Control and Command' approach the police embody the authority of the state. Order is considered the core objective. The police exhibit strong, executive characteristics, exclusively in the service of the government. Both these elements have led to a certain antagonism and distrust between police and society. This - even with the positive evolutions in the maintenance of order and negotiated management - is still evident in the present day handling of an event.
Community policing implies a police service that is neutral, always objective and embedded firmly in the community. It therefore follows that the police's role is to provide a service and is essentially protective: they protect, as a body of civil society, together with other partners, fundamental rights. Since society is in a state of constant change, it is characterised by burgeoning, slumbering and long standing conflicts. The police's core objective lies in preventing, solving, guiding and evaluating conflict. This means that:
- the police are partners in detecting and identifying causes of possible conflicts;
- the police are partners in conflict management and the guidance of public gatherings and the protection of persons, goods and institutions;
- the police, when there is an escalation of conflict, are partners in the de-escalation of inflammable or already inflamed situations;
- the police are partners in the evaluation of past conflicts and public gatherings, including the possible disturbances and violent behaviour which may have occurred.
4.2.2 The police as partners in detecting causes of possible conflicts
188.8.131.52 'Conflict resolution' and provention
'Conflict resolution' is the way in which a conflict is handled by tackling the roots of the problem. This implies an analytical approach to the conflict. It means, deducing from an adequate explanation of the phenomenon of conflict, including its human dimensions, not merely the conditions that create an environment of conflict, and the structural changes required to remove it, but more importantly, the promotion of conditions that create co-operative relationships. Burton calls this, from his conflict theory background, provention.70 Provention and the ties of co-operation alluded to , must strengthen the bonds with society, whereby mutual confidence can grow.
184.108.40.206 The proventive role of the police
Provention demands an integral, analytical approach and input from directly and indirectly involved parties. The proventive role of the police is, according to the definition of provention, situated in three domains.
The first domain is the study of conditions which create a conflictual context. When, for example, people in a certain neighbourhood have for months been irritated by the fact that their street has been dug up or that the street they live on is the scene of an ever increasing number of road accidents, then it can be the task of the police or other partners to take note of these problems as soon as possible and inform the proper authorities. Here the police have a warning function.
The second domain is the presentation of possible structural changes in order to help tackle the causes of the problem. For example a police traffic specialist might draw up a plan which could be the starting point of, or a contribution to, a discussion of the necessary infrastructural measures to be taken. Here the police have an advisory function.
The third domain is the creation of co-operative relationships, also when problems or conflicts have not materialised. Should conflict then occur the basis for networking has already be laid down. The police, because they are involved in primary care and have good contacts with other organisations occupied with primary care, have an important role as antennae in society. Problems and conflicts are brought to their attention. They will then "follow-up". In this way they reduce the possibility of these problems developing into social conflict or leading directly to public gatherings and/or disturbances. In order to achieve this, the police have to position themselves to "follow-up" and make it known they are doing so. Here the police have a pioneering function in the field of mutual co-operation.
4.2.3 The police as partners in conflict management, the management of public gatherings and the protection of persons, goods and institutions
220.127.116.11 'Conflict Management' and prevention
Unsolved, dormant conflicts are continually moving and changing, even when apparently static. In some cases they result in public gatherings, in others, not. Yet the potential for violence is always present .We define prevention as avoidance of violence through the efficient guidance of conflicts on the one hand and equally effective handling of public gatherings on the other. Prevention is a part of what is , in conflict theory literature, understood by 'Conflict Management'. What is found to be effective or efficient within the framework of prevention has a direct link to the approach used.
We argued that the community policing commitment takes into account the interests of all concerned. That is why the general characteristics regarding order and disorder and the specific contexts in which they take place must form the basis of prevention.
What has become clear from these general characteristics is that only a fraction of public gatherings lead to disorder and/or violence. It is the moment named by D. Waddington et al. as the 'flash point'; the 'flash point' of an incident is the action which precipitates escalation.71 A flash point refers to a dramatic break in the interaction pattern of a group, embedded in specific, ever-widening contexts. These contexts, which go back to the structural level of conflicts, form the conditions from which a flash point can develop.
The study of public gatherings based on the knowledge of conflicts and empirical conclusions, makes the necessity of prevention on the basis of a 'worst case' scenario, far less dominant. The fact that, in France for example, 95% of public gatherings run smoothly, allows for a certain latitude in experimenting with new and different approaches which can be tailored to the nature or character of the gathering. Public gatherings will be considered as, after all, being embedded within the social dynamics and resulting from a merging and interaction of different elements.
18.104.22.168 The general preventative role of the police
The core aim of prevention is the avoidance of flash points. Here the role of the police encompasses six dimensions.72 The first three dimensions - the structural, political/ideological and cultural - should form an integral part of daily local policing. They must create the right conditions for the correct management of public gatherings.
The structural dimension encompasses those conflicts inherent in the differences between social groups. These can be material (the employed/the unemployed) or ideological (workers - managers or employees - employers). In this dimension the police have to play their role as antennae to the fullest extent. Conflicts are present and the police must keep themselves informed. Being well informed of the realities of situations can be useful if one or other of the conflicting parties decides to take to the streets.
The political - ideological dimension encompasses those protest groups in conflict with political and ideological institutions. With institutionalised groups, trade unions for example, the role of the police is limited to contacts and agreements with the organisers or spokespersons. With non-institutionalised groups, the homeless or squatters for example, the role of the police is more complex. Firstly, it is an informative one, aiming to create an opening so that these groups can, in due course, organise themselves and go through the process of institutionalisation. Secondly, it is that of assisting: namely to advise and guide people who live on the margins of society. Thirdly, this role must be seen to be neutral regarding the problems involved.
The cultural dimension encompasses the ways in which groups of people perceive the social world and their position therein. A socially -embedded police service knows these subcultures in society (youth, professionals such as teachers, nurses, etc. ) and the manner in which the people in these subcultures tend to express themselves (provocative, passionate, resigned, etc. ). Should these people come out onto the streets the police are prepared for them without prejudices. This is one reason why it is important for the police to be well informed about the composition of the crowds. The adequate exchange of information finds its place here.
22.214.171.124. The specific-preventative role of the police
In order to steer public gatherings in the right direction , direct prevention, in the area of organisation and successive developments, must be taken by all the parties involved.
The contextual level refers to the relationship, built up over a long period of time to reach its present form, which exists between police and campaigners (for example farmers, miners, etc.). The role of the police is to evaluate previous events with the same groups without falling prey to stereotypical or static conclusions (as in 'miners mean trouble').
The situational level refers to the spatial (mapping out of a route, for example) and social determinants (the police deployment, for example) of an event or incident. The role of the police lies in finding the balance between the right of freedom of movement of all participants in the event and of all other people directly or indirectly involved. The guidelines here for the police should be :to have the utmost respect for the different groups and individuals: to limit as far as possible any damage, and to remain within the limits of what is reasonable for all those involved. Reasonableness, objectivity and neutrality are the key words of the police action.
4.2.4 The police as partners in the escalation towards and de-escalation from the 'flash point'
Within a specific 'public gathering' situation, demonstrations, strikes or other mass events, there is always the question of interaction between the people participating in the event, those indirectly involved and (sometimes) the police. Everything that takes place between these persons or groups is defined as the interactional level. Disorder, that is the bringing about of a 'flash point', is a dramatic breach in the interaction pattern of a group. The next question is in what measure police strategies and tactics can lead to a situation where conflicts escalate rather than de-escalate.
That is why it is important that, when determining these strategies and tactics, all levels are referred to and taken into account.
For a long time the very specific group dynamics at an interactional level have (only) been studied from a (mass) psychological angle. In many respects they are still always dominant in determining police action. Yet each theory of group behaviour must acknowledge the dynamic potential of this behaviour as well as the essential and much more complex rationality of the participants, who always act within socio-structural limitations.73 Any theory of group behaviour needs to be applicable to every group, including the police. Police are just as likely to overreact and behave in a way that is not in keeping with that of a legitimate police service.74
On the interactional level the role of the police lies in the prevention rather than the elimination of 'flash points'. Negotiation and mediation are central to this role. However a prerequisite is that the police never, for whatever reason, allow themselves to be drawn into one or other of the group dynamics. All efforts must be concentrated on de-escalation, even when this entails putting the resilience of individual police officers severely to the test. This factor must form the basis of training and the development of tactics and techniques.
The benefits to the police are fundamental: by working together on initiatives at other levels of prevention and provention they can only raise their credibility as partners. It is only in this way, by being neutral arbitrators, that the police can show they are honouring the 'contract' between society and the authorities.
4.2.5 The police as partners in the evaluation of conflicts, public gatherings and/or 'flash points'
The police characterise themselves essentially as a learning organisation. Thorough evaluations are fundamental. The background to a conflict should be checked out, rigourously. Steps which have or have not been taken regarding provention, prevention and de-escalation must be considered in an integrated manner.
During these evaluations people, directly or indirectly involved as partners, may be invited to participate, if necessary after an internal review. All partners can indeed learn from the experience gained and from the exchange of standpoints and views. Retaining this learning attitude is of fundamental importance to the evaluations of 'positive' as well as 'negative' experiences.
One can learn from success. When events have passed off smoothly and peacefully, one can, for example, question why the public gathering was peaceful, why there was no 'flash point'etc.
Negative experiences can broaden ones outlook: violent incidents may for instance give the police a better insight into the build -up of a conflict or 'flash point'or in their own role in relation to this build-up. It is important that the prime motivation of both the police and their partners lies in daring to learn lessons.
The subsequent discussions, evaluations or lessons drawn, constitute in a next phase, the inspiration for (new) initiatives in the field of provention and/or prevention and in the long term provide more knowledge about de-escalating techniques and tactics.
Finally it is important that a learning organisation tests its own management and learning process against relevant scientific research. Only then does an organisation have all the elements in place to keep alive the idea of permanent improvement. It goes without saying that permanent improvement takes place within the Community Policing context described above.
In this chapter we have looked at applying the community policing-concept, that of a police service firmly embedded in society, to the 'phenomenon' of public gatherings. We have also seen that the 'phenomenon' of these gatherings stems from a vision of society as dynamic and conflictual. This forms the basis for viewing the co-operative role of the police as one of partnership.
Firstly the police are partners, searching for, or helping to prevent, the causes of problems or conflicts. On this level of provention the role of the police lies principally in warning and advisory function and the development of networks which invite and encourage co-operation. Secondly, the police are partners in conflict management, including the handling of public gatherings and the protection of persons, goods and institutions. Regarding the management of the public environment the search for the right balance between, on the one hand, the management of the event itself and the protection of persons, goods and institutions, closely or only remotely connected with the event, on the other, is of primary importance.
Thirdly, the police are partners in the escalation towards or the de-escalation from the 'flash point'. The avoidance or disposal of flash points, through negotiation and mediation, is dependant here on the insights into the dynamics which develop. For a sound understanding of such developed dynamics ,we should reach beyond the purely interactional level and complete this understanding with information from other five dimensions, namely the situational, contextual, political-ideological and socio-structural backgrounds.
Fourthly, the police are partners during the evaluation of conflicts, including public gatherings and/or 'flash points'. In order to realise their role as partners, the police have to present themselves, in essence, as a learning organisation. This is how an approach to the individual importance of each public gathering becomes possible while continual evaluation inspires and enhances, among other things, the proventive and preventive activities of the police. In other words , they are part of an approach which still has room for improvement and higher quality, but remains within the parameters of the community policing commitment.
5. General Conclusion
Theory without practice is empty, practice without theory is blind.
On a policing level a number of shifts have been taken place over the past twenty years. The option of community policing has changed both the priorities and the manner of execution of a number of police tasks. Another shift took place in the field of maintaining order: the institutionalisation of demonstrations and a negotiated management have led to the development of a ' pacification process'. On the one hand the evolutionary aspects of this change, certainly from a democratic point of view, are positive factors. On the other hand the expectations which accompanied this and other changes have only been partially realised. community policing was never really the breakthrough it was hoped it would be. It has never, for example, been able to fulfil the promise of an alternative policing model or a new paradigm. An important reason lies in the fact that community policing has never had proper theoretical foundations. That is why it was unable to provide the police with something to hold on to. As a result many police services attempting to follow the community policing path have, in the case of concrete policing choices or direct implementation, been unable to do anything other than fall back on what we have called the assumptions in the 'Control and Command' scenario: namely Order above Law and the instrumental view of the police. In addition to this, the potential integration of community policing in the management of Order has never been fundamentally thought through.
In this paper we have given a critical historical review and evaluation of the concept of community policing, so as to present it, because of its intrinsic potential, as an alternative framework. We have applied this framework to the organisation of the public environment. The management of public gatherings and the protection of persons, goods and institutions, as this police task was described, can therefore be seen and understood as a blueprint for the whole policing function.
As an body in society, the police, together with other partners, protect and safeguard all individual and collective basic rights. Law and Order, in this sequence, defines the place and functioning of the police. Herein they take into account the needs and wishes of all of the groups within the community, while at the same time they are accountable to them.
Yet the community is not a static entity. It changes and evolves constantly, not least through the conflicts which occur within. These can sooner or later give rise to public gatherings and/or the use of violence. Consequently, an important core function of the police lies in helping to prevent, solve, conduct and evaluate conflicts. The management of public gatherings and the protection of persons, goods and institutions is part of that. Realising this core function means that the intervention of police on the different levels of 'problem solving', namely provention, prevention, de-escalation and the police as a learning organisation, have to be further thought through and given a concrete format. This calls for three things:
Firstly, a more thorough theoretical foundation of the 'problem solving' levels via further research;
Secondly, an examination of existing police practice within the framework of the management of public gatherings and the protection of persons, goods and institutions; and
Thirdly, a constant interaction between practice and research resulting in feedback to theory and concrete police practice.
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7 "In many quarters today, community policing is used to encompass practically all innovations in policing, from the most ambitious to the most mundane, from the most carefully thought through to the most casual. And in the larger public forum, the label is used in ways that create an expectation that, on implementation, community policing will provide a panacea for not only crime, disorder and racial tensions but many of the other problems that plague our urban society." (Goldstein in Rosenbaum, 1994).
13 In most European countries, the modern police organisations have been specifically created for this reason of Order in the course of the nineteenth century "… police forces are typical late-twentieth-century bureaucies standing in a specific relation to the state." (Keith, 1993: 228). From now on it was not the army but the police who had to take on the internal enemy: it was they who had to suppress outbursts and riots in the big cities. The function of the army was reduced to the fight against the foreign enemy although the police could still, in specific cases, appeal to the army for support. Even if the relation between Order and Law has become more balanced over the last few decades, the choice of one or the other may still depend on political interests, preferences, personal interpretations or coincidence.
16 Because the police detains the monopoly of violence and can be deployed as an instrument for the use of violence, it will always contain a certain danger for the democratic working of society. One conclusion that may be drawn is that society is helped by a spreading of the monopoly and, as a consequence, the existence of several police forces (Monjardet, 1996).
17 Monjardet (1996) also places the key of the evolution towards a democratic police force in the search for a 'balance' between the three dimensions of the police (as an instrument, an organisation, and a profession). These dimensions imply that the police act under the authority of the government, in accordance with the social demand for policing and also in their own professional interests. In countries with a Napoleontic police system the social question has often proved to be not essential. The question is answered as long as there is nothing more urgent (in the eyes of the government: the public order) or interesting (in the eyes of the profession: the fight against crime).
20 "A number of specific features of police work contribute to the 'relative autonomy' of the police culture from external rules. (…) Individually and collectively, then, these features of police work, together with police administrative dependence upon street-level officers, provide sufficient pretexts and intra-organisational power to subvert, or distort or deflect the pristine intents behind external rules." (Goldsmith, 1990:95)
21 Community policing, as it appears in the American experience, is based on the assumption that subjective feelings of insecurity are caused by disturbances of public order rather than through criminal acts. It is exactly this assumption that has brought about increasing numbers of police patrols and visible presence.
24 Community definitions of order can 'quickly become intentions of class and racial bias and thereby introduce more injustice into communities than expected' (Green, as quoted in Riechers & Roberg, 1990, p. 108).
25 While team policing programmes showed some success, it was not enough to overcome the problems faced by team policing programmes. Sherman (1975) points out that the problem with most team policing programmes was that middle management functioned only in terms of control, ant not in terms of support for team policing officers (Riechers & Robergs, 1990, p.105).
33 Some relativisation however is necessary. This movement towards 'harder' crowd control, in terms of strategies and techniques, was coupled to another trend: the organising of pro-active enquiries and preventative measures (King & Brearly, 1996).
35 " It is going to come to the point that the only people that are going to be able to deal with these problems are highly trained tactical teams with proper equipment to go into the neighbourhood and hold it; allowing community policing and problem oriented policing officers to come in and start turning the neighbourhood around." (Kraska & Kappeler, 1997:13).
37 "… These are times when nerves, frustration or anger can develop, fortified by disparaging stories and rumours about the enemy, tales of battles past, or precursory justifications for later confrontations. (Jefferson, 1987: 51).
43 In Zurich, the ratio policemen / participant is 1 per 2,85. Most of the police are wearing riot gear. Rubber bullets, tear gas and batons are frequently used. Moreover, specific groups are targeted. (Wisler, 1997).
64 'One might argue that there are problems in this – that the police are in danger of losing control of their own actions, which are determined precisely by the initiatives taken by other groups. It is possible to argue that in some cases the police should be prepared to show more restraint than others, not to respond in the same measure to increases of aggression in others, in an active attempt to de-escalate' (Marshall, 1992: 91).
71 A flash point is not the product of an irrational crowd. Crowds have a rational and purposive dimension. In order to understand the emergence of a flash point a number of conducive factors have to be taken in to account. The Scarman report talks about 'antecedent conditions', Smelser about 'structural conduciveness and strains' and Waddington about six tension levels. The most important difference between Waddington and Smelser is that the latter considers the roots of conflict of less importance then the actual situation in which conflicting parties meet. Waddington thinks the other way round: conflict on a structural level is a necessary condition for public disorder. King & Brearly (1996), who thoroughly examined these different models, argue that Waddington's model is the most relevant and complete.