This dissertation is the result of qualitative research carried out by Beth Middleton as part of a BA Honours Law and Criminology degree during the academic year of 2011/12. The research examines strategic facilitation as a policing strategy and questions whether it is a viable strategy that the police could deploy in policing large scale public gatherings in the future
Strategic facilitation builds a positive report between the police and the public. It manifests itself in the deployment of specifically trained officers within a large crowd to facilitate communication and mediation in the hope that this will avoid mass disorder whilst allowing appropriate lawful protest.
The main focus throughout this research was the policing of the 2011 Liberal Democrat Party conference held in Sheffield, known as Operation Obelisk, see Appendix 1. Three police officers involved in the planning and tactical delivery of this operation have been interviewed during the course of this research. During the course of this research, it has become apparent that there is no literature detailing academic study of the views of individual police officers about the use of strategic facilitation which is a new approach to policing large scale public protest. The research conducted in the preparation of this dissertation addresses this issue.
Following interviews of the identified police officers from Operation Obelisk, thematic analysis was conducted and themes established. When interviewed, the officers were all of the opinion that strategic facilitation had been effective in reducing disorder. These factors taken together indicate that strategic facilitation is the way forward for the police.
The research suggests that it would be beneficial for the police service to consider expanding the use of strategic facilitation into other aspects of policing.
Its use across the whole of the police service would replicate the success of Operation Obelisk.
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