Outstanding impact of Leeds research celebrated by ESRC


Dr Clifford Stott of the Security and Justice Research Group at the University of Leeds has won the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) 2014 Celebrating Impact Award for Outstanding Impact.

The highly prestigious award reflects Dr Stott’s work with policy makers and police forces both nationally and internationally, changing the way crowds and protests are policed.

Dr Stott’s research has had a number of impacts:

  • Dr Stott assisted in the design and implementation of a police use-of-force strategy for the 2004 UEFA European Football Championships. His ESRC research subsequently provided evidence that this ‘evidence based’ policing approach contributed to the low levels of violent confrontation during the tournament. 
  • As a reflection of this success, proposals based upon Dr Stott's research were accepted as amendments to the 2005 and 2010 editions of the European Union's main policy documents for police cooperation surrounding international football competitions such as the UEFA European Championships, Champions and Europa Leagues.
  • Dr Stott has subsequently advised and trained police commanders across Europe and Australia. His research underpinned the €1.1 million Pan European Football Police Training Project, delivering customised training to 250 police officers from 21 European countries.
  • Reforms to the Association of Chief Police Officers' national guidance on the policing of public order in the UK (2010) were drawn directly from Dr Stott's input into the Inspectorate of the Constabulary’s (HMIC) inquiry into public order policing, following the death of Mr Ian Tomlinson during the ‘G20’ protests in London in 2009.

Dr Stott’s research shows that the indiscriminate use of force by the police can inadvertently exacerbate crowd conflict by creating or reinforcing perceptions of police illegitimacy and generating a sense of empowerment among participants within a crowd.

The research developed by Dr Stott, of the University's Security and Justice Research Group, and colleagues during the UEFA European Championships in 2004, provided further powerful evidence that potentially violent crowds can be managed more effectively when the police concentrate on enabling lawful behaviour through dialogue rather than merely trying to control criminal behaviour through fear and force.

Dr Stott, from the University’s School of Law, said: “What our research demonstrates is that avoiding riots is not just about controlling crowds or focusing on heavy weaponry, such as water cannon. Rather our work demonstrates that crowd violence is meaningful for the people involved. So, somewhat counter intuitively, the police can actually avoid riots through approaches based upon dialogue and friendly engagement with crowd participants.”

As a reflection of the wide-ranging impact of his work, Dr Stott's research now permeates police training and policy internationally and throughout the UK. His ongoing work also underpins the recent introduction of new police 'liaison units', designed to avoid conflict through the facilitation of rights and the use of dialogue.

Dr Stott received the award at a ceremony at the Royal Society in London.

Image credit: CMM Ltd

Further information

See the ESRC website http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/features-casestudies/case-studies/30853/policing-crowds-without-force.aspx

Dr Clifford Stott is available for interview. Please contact Ben Jones, Press Officer, on 0113 343 8059 or email B.P.Jones@leeds.ac.uk