Enabling an Evidence-Based Approach to Policing Football in the UK

Clifford Stott*, Geoff Pearson, Owen West

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Across the last 10 years, the policing of demonstrations in the UK has witnessed substantive change in terms of both statutory guidance and operational practices. With this study, we highlight how the policing of football crowds in the UK has, to date, yet to undergo similar change, despite being covered by the same statutory guidance. On the basis of largely qualitative data and analysis generated through a quasi-ethnographic approach, we explore the dynamics of police football crowd interactions. We identify how current approaches can fail to adequately understand the nature of risk and lead to a disproportionate deployment of resources both of which have the potential to increase rather than reduce the risk of disorder. We propose that forces develop and test innovative approaches to football policing that are engrained in existing public order guidance, but which move away from a reliance upon fixed categories of risk, focus more on the positive human rights of supporters, and prioritize the tactical deployment of bespoke resources to improve dialogue with fans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-994
Number of pages18
JournalPolicing (Oxford)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Police


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