The interaction between psychological theories of crowd behaviour, public order legislation and public order policing

Research Institution / Organisation

Liverpool John Moores University

Principal Researcher

Ian Whitfield

Level of Research


Project Start Date

January 2013

Research Context

​In the past ten years the 'classical' psychological theory of crowd behaviour, dominant for almost a century, has been discredited and replaced by the universally accepted Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM).   The researcher completed an MSc examining the effect of the 'classical' theory on public order policing. Part of his work on the NPPOTC included the production of a crowd psychology module based on ESIM that has been taught to police commanders.
Phase One of the current PhD research extends the MSc research and examines the effects of the 'classical' theory on the drafting, enactment and application of public order legislation.
Phase Two will examine the effects of ESIM, and related developments, on public order policing strategies and tactics now that it has been taught for almost three years.

Research Methodology

​Phase one consists of historical research examining parliamentary documents, legislation, judgements and sentencing.
It is intended that Phase two of the research will involve direct observation of operations and structured interviews with police commanders. It is intended to interview a sample group of 20 commanders across a range of public order events and operations.

Interim reports and publications

​Articles in preparation/submission

Date due for completion

July 2018
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