Sussex police unleash new weapon – crowd psychology


Sussex police have recently started to use new forms of repressive tactics for policing demonstrations. They seem to have taken a break from head cracking to trial what they have termed ‘Police Liaison Officers’ or PLOs at the recent Smash EDO demonstration on June 4th. This may not be simply a new fad by the cops, but could be part of a new era of repression based on the relatively new ‘science’ of crowd psychology. The PLOs are the brainchild of Dr. Clifford Stott, a crowd psychologist working with the cops to ‘manage’ crowds. This man was seen at the Smash EDO demo wearing a blue observer vest, presumably to check up on his PLOs he’d just trained.

He tweeted this last week just before the Smash EDO demo A brilliant few days creating PLTs in Sussex. A long way to go but a rubicon has been crossed. Helping secure ECHR based approaches!

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The Sussex Police PLOs are predominately female, and use a nicey-nicey approach to try and create the illusion that they are the “good” people and on our side. On top of this, Graham Bartlett, the local police chief has “praised” Smash EDO for their good behaviour.

Crowd psychology seeks to pacify social movements by creating a situation where the crowd ‘self polices’. The following is a description of how this could be used in practice by leading crowd psychologists:

“using a ‘dialogue police’ unit, whose officers work before, during and after risky situations to communicate with radical groups and getting the crowd to “self-police” by actively undermining those trying to initiate “trouble” or at the very least making it easier for the cops to deal with them.”

This is almost exactly what we saw at the recent Smash EDO demo.

After the riots it seems the police are finding new and invidious ways to keep us in our place, which is leading to a new form of policing where police are integrated into the crowd, not as undercovers, as they have been previously, but as part of it. Crowd psychology, if it takes off, may result in a form of repression which is more dangerous to social movements than water cannon or rubber bullets, as it creates a situation where the public become more sympathetic to the police than to those facing repression. On top of that, PLOs suck the energy and solidarity away from the people on the streets. What is clear is we need to make sure we do not allow our demonstrations to be infiltrated by the police in this way and we make sure they are not welcome. Once we allow them to be part of our demos in this way we have already lost, as it will be the cops and not us calling the shots.

The use of this new tactic shows us the cops are out of their depth and cannot deal with the new wave of social unrest sweeping the UK in recent years. To beat them at their game we have to stay one step ahead of them by understanding these tactics and what they mean for us before they are truly put to use.

You can see more about Dr. Clifford Stott and his theories here:

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Clifford-Stott/179023995454028
LinkedIn profile: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/dr-clifford-stott/1a/154/760
Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/CliffordStott
Centre for Investigative Psychology profile: http://www.i-psy.com/people/people_stott.php

This article is a repost. The original appeared on indymedia

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9 Responses to Sussex police unleash new weapon – crowd psychology

  1. Pingback: Sussex police unleash new weapon – crowd psychology « Fitwatch « About Psychology

  2. Henry Brubaker says:

    Love the idea you think talking to people is Police ‘repression’.

    What planet do you loons actually live on?

  3. What do academics make of Stott’s involvement? It is hardly an impartial position to be embedded with the police, and as he is actually selling his services as a consultant to the police. The constant reference to him as an academic by both police and Stott, seems a lot like spin, especially given how little has said by them that deascribes him as a paid consultant.

    See my blog http://fromoutsidethewhale.wordpress.com/ for more.

  4. Samotnaf says:

    Re. Stott’s crowd psychoology team:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the fact that Dr John Drury, of Sussex University, was a member of his team. This guy participated in the anti-roads movement of the 1990s and co-opted his experience into helping the cops with their strategies. Check out “Chaos Theory” – http://jdarchive.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/chaos_theory_bw.pdf – which was co-signed by Drury and appeared in the cop journal Janes Police Review of 24th April 2009 and was designed to advise cops on better “divide and rule” policing after the famous G20 demonstrations in which a cop killed Ian Tomlinson.

    This article includes such suggestions as this: “The graded tactical model
    that grew from this strategy began with offiers in normal uniform. Riot
    police were on hand, but were deliberately kept out of sight. Frontline
    offiers were then embedded within crowds (even during events categorised
    as high risk), working in pairs, interacting and encouraging legitimate
    behaviour. As a result, police offiers were able to gather information and
    constantly monitor for and then react quickly to emergent risk. By using modern
    crowd theory and principles in this way, the police were able to avoid
    indiscriminate interventions against large crowds, although they still
    maintained this as a tactical option. What was also evident was that in this
    context of perceived police legitimacy, fans began to ‘self-police’ by actively
    undermining those trying to initiate trouble or at the very least making it
    easier for the police to deal with them. But, most importantly of all, there was
    an almost total absence of disorder.”

    For further information about this guy a, check out:
    http://libcom.org/news/open-letter-tptg-06102011

    http://libcom.org/forums/general/aufhebens-crowd-controlling-cop-consultant-strange-case-dr-who-mr-bowdler-1610201

    http://anarchistnews.org/node/15545

    Interestingly, since the publicising of the “Chaos Theory”
    article in October 2011, the original link by Stott has been taken off the
    internet (though the above link, put up recently by other people, works), and
    since November 2011 Janes Police Review as a whole is no longer available on the
    internet even to those paying for it.

  5. Samotnaf says:

    Re. Stott’s crowd psychoology team:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the fact that Dr John Drury, of Sussex University, was a member of his team. This guy participated in the anti-roads movement of the 1990s and co-opted his experience into helping the cops with their strategies. Check out “Chaos Theory” – http://jdarchive.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/chaos_theory_bw.pdf – which was co-signed by Drury and appeared in the cop journal Janes Police Review of 24th April 2009 and was designed to advise cops on better “divide and rule” policing after the famous G20 demonstrations in which a cop killed Ian Tomlinson.

    This article includes such suggestions as this: “The graded tactical model
    that grew from this strategy began with offiers in normal uniform. Riot
    police were on hand, but were deliberately kept out of sight. Frontline
    offiers were then embedded within crowds (even during events categorised
    as high risk), working in pairs, interacting and encouraging legitimate
    behaviour. As a result, police offiers were able to gather information and
    constantly monitor for and then react quickly to emergent risk. By using modern
    crowd theory and principles in this way, the police were able to avoid
    indiscriminate interventions against large crowds, although they still
    maintained this as a tactical option. What was also evident was that in this
    context of perceived police legitimacy, fans began to ‘self-police’ by actively
    undermining those trying to initiate trouble or at the very least making it
    easier for the police to deal with them. But, most importantly of all, there was
    an almost total absence of disorder.”

    For further information about this guy as well as some reflections on cop tactics and crowd psychology, check out these texts from October 2011:
    http://libcom.org/news/open-letter-tptg-06102011

    http://libcom.org/forums/general/aufhebens-crowd-controlling-cop-consultant-strange-case-dr-who-mr-bowdler-1610201

    http://anarchistnews.org/node/15545

    Interestingly, since the publicising of the “Chaos Theory”
    article in October 2011, the original link by Stott has been taken off the
    internet (though the above link, put up recently by other people, works), and
    since November 2011 Janes Police Review as a whole is no longer available on the
    internet even to those paying for it.

  6. Name says:

    They can’t win can they. Rather than kettle, they stick out a few nice cops to bore protesters to engage, no disorder and no arrests and no trunchions flying….but still they are the baddies. I’ve come to the conclusion they will never be able to win. The fact that they’re using non-police academics to help them reduce disorder/violence is survey a good thing?? Would it be better to go back to heavy handed visible riot cops in your face before any trouble started, ketting and starting trouble etc. Or engaging, helping it go peacefully, keeping the nuckle dragging riot cops out of site and away from the front line…..and being nice….even if they are mentally recording what’s going on etc. If what they see and hear isn’t a planned bit of disorder or some criminal damage then the quality of that Intel will be rubbish and useless. If you’ve nothing to hide, why do you care if they mingle?

    It just comes across quite odd. It’s almost like you want there to be trouble and you don’t want the cops to have the ability to deal with that trouble. We will ALWAYS have cops and we will ALWAYS have people in the community who want to be able to call upon the cops in a time of crisis. And unfortunately you will ALWAYS have some idiot who goes too far and creates a need for there to be cops to step in and say, hay, you’ve gone too far.

    What exactly do you want? What would be the desired outcome of this website and these posts/ramblings. No cops at any protests? No smart policing -intelligence/engagement/crown dynamics training etc??? I really don’t understand. Perhaps no police at all? Should we just police ourselves. Can we just hire private companies to look after us, like G4S. Would we get rig of just riot cops. Should we have the people policing the roads too, catching the murderers and rapists and pedoes. Have I gone too far, do you only want cops for things you disagree with but the violence that often comes from emotive protest should be free reign for the people?

    Lots of question there I appreciate, but i just cannot understand the point of this website and the amount of time you put in to it. It just seems a total waste of your life and acheave very little and for seemingly no coherent end goal……

  7. Max Clifford Jr Maybe says:

    They can’t win can they. Rather than kettle, they stick out a few nice cops to bore protesters to engage, no disorder and no arrests and no trunchions flying….but still they are the baddies. I’ve come to the conclusion they will never be able to win. The fact that they’re using non-police academics to help them reduce disorder/violence is survey a good thing?? Would it be better to go back to heavy handed visible riot cops in your face before any trouble started, ketting and starting trouble etc. Or engaging, helping it go peacefully, keeping the nuckle dragging riot cops out of site and away from the front line…..and being nice….even if they are mentally recording what’s going on etc. If what they see and hear isn’t a planned bit of disorder or some criminal damage then the quality of that Intel will be rubbish and useless. If you’ve nothing to hide, why do you care if they mingle?

    It just comes across quite odd. It’s almost like you want there to be trouble and you don’t want the cops to have the ability to deal with that trouble. We will ALWAYS have cops and we will ALWAYS have people in the community who want to be able to call upon the cops in a time of crisis. And unfortunately you will ALWAYS have some idiot who goes too far and creates a need for there to be cops to step in and say, hay, you’ve gone too far.

    What exactly do you want? What would be the desired outcome of this website and these posts/ramblings. No cops at any protests? No smart policing -intelligence/engagement/crown dynamics training etc??? I really don’t understand. Perhaps no police at all? Should we just police ourselves. Can we just hire private companies to look after us, like G4S. Would we get rig of just riot cops. Should we have the people policing the roads too, catching the murderers and rapists and pedoes. Have I gone too far, do you only want cops for things you disagree with but the violence that often comes from emotive protest should be free reign for the people?

    Lots of question there I appreciate, but i just cannot understand the point of this website and the amount of time you put in to it. It just seems a total waste of your life and acheave very little and for seemingly no coherent end goal……

  8. FITness First says:

    Youre obviously missing the point of the whole article. That these ‘liason’ roles were part of the role of the early FIT, and we have seen what they become.

    Also, of course the Police talking to someone can be repression. Do you really think all forms of oppression are carried out without any verbal interaction?

  9. FITness First says:

    “They can’t win can they. Rather than kettle, they stick out a few nice cops to bore protesters to engage, no disorder and no arrests and no trunchions flying….but still they are the baddies. I’ve come to the conclusion they will never be able to win. ”

    –> We are sick of being controlled, monitored, harassed, repressed, assaulted, arrested, beaten prosecuted and criminalised. Make of that what you want.

    “Lots of question there I appreciate, but i just cannot understand the point of this website and the amount of time you put in to it. It just seems a total waste of your life and acheave very little and for seemingly no coherent end goal……”

    –> The point is, first and foremost, getting debate going amongst people and educating people about what is happening. People can then decide what they want to do about it for themselves. I, personally, don’t feel like I am ‘wasting’ my life. You know nothing about me!

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