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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Crowd Dynamics, Policing and 'Hooliganism' at Euro2004

Over the years we have witnessed major incidents of hooliganism at major international tournaments involving fans from many European countries. In the run up to the 2004 European Championship finals in Portugal (Euro2004) attention has once again brought to bear upon the role of hooligans in creating high levels of disorder in the context of international competition. Dominant academic explanations of hooliganism reflect the idea that it is caused simply by the presence of hooligan fans. Correspondingly, governments across Europe have tried to tackle the problem by confiscating passports from suspected hooligans and denying rights of entry into countries hosting football tournaments (strategies which have important implications for civil liberties). There is clear scientifically-derived evidence, however, that this focus upon hooligan fans is neither adequate to understand nor to eradicate major incidents of hooliganism from international football competition. This evidence suggests that these major incidents of hooliganism are better understood as crowd events and therefore as an outcome of specific forms of inter-group interaction between fans and police. Moreover, the existing research suggests that the forms of policing that are used to try to control the problem of hooliganism somewhat ironically actually produce forms of intergroup interaction that create the social psychological conditions for widepsread disorder to take place. This proposal is therefore based upon the idea that a solution to the problem can be found by addressing scientifically the psychological processes and intergroup dynamics involved in the collective behaviour of fans attending international tournaments. More specifically, the aim of this proposal is to produce research that will create novel empirically derived knowledge on the impact of different styles of public order policing upon the overall nature of public order and the underlying social psychological process that mediate this impact. This knowledge can then be utilised to develop theoretical understanding of major incidents of disorder and to develop forms of policing that are more effective at reducing the overall levels of hooliganism at international football competitions in the future. The proposed research aims to develop existing research by combining two previously seperate forms of methodological approach. On the one hand the research will adopt systematic observational techniques developed from ethology but previously utilised in the context of hooliganism research. Using locally recruited teams of trained observers the research will provide quantitative measurement of police behaviour, fan behaviour, police fan interactions and overall levels of public order. On the other the research will utilise a team of expert ethnographic researchers who have been developing their methodology during an ongoing programme of related research. This team of ethnogrpahic researchers has unparralleled and unique top level access to the police force in Portugal and to visiting police forces, football associations and fan groups from various European nations that may (or have already) qualified for the tournament. The ethnographic methodology will be used to simultaneously gather data from police organisations and fans in order to understand the underlying social, organisational and psychological processes governing the kinds of behaviour, interactions and levels of public order being measured by observation teams in the field. The subsequent analysis will allow for specific theoretical and practical developments. Firstly on an academic level it will advance theoretical understanding of the social and psychological dynamics of collective behaviour. More specifically, it will, for the first time, provide quantitative data on crowd behaviour that is complimented with contemporaneous data relating to underlying social and social psychological processes. It will also provide an important contribution to our theoretical understanding of football hooliganism and its causal factors. Secondly, it will advance understanding of the effectiveness of different forms of public order policing as they relate to the control of public order. By providing an empirical and scientifically neutral analysis of the relationship between policing styles, fan behaviour and public order the research will assist in the politically sensitive challenge of developing international frameworks for public order policing in the European Union. Finally, through existing relationships with police training academies in the U.K., Netherlands and Portugal the research will contribute to the development of research led international framework for the academic education and operational training of police officers (and academics). This research therefore has the potential to act as a framework for an approach to policing that through strategy development, implimentation, evaluation, development and education, will place U.K scie