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‘Piggy in the middle' A dialogical approach to the policing of protest and the balancing of human rights

Smith, M (2019) ‘Piggy in the middle' A dialogical approach to the policing of protest and the balancing of human rights. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The right to peacefully protest is an intrinsic part of a democratic society and embedded in UK history and tradition. The police are responsible for managing public order and facilitating peaceful protest, and this has not been without criticism. On occasions the police have found themselves in opposition to protest groups and there have been incidents of disorder as a result. In response, the development of police liaison officers in the UK has presented the police with a tactic that provides a gateway for dialogue between the police and those involved in protest, both prior to and during an event. There has been scant research into the use of dialogue between the police and protesters and the deployment of liaison officers. This research supports and contributes to this sparse body of research by providing further evidence of the value of dialogue between protesters and the police and advocates the role of Police Liaison Teams (PLT) as the conduit between protesters and police decision-making commanders. The right to peaceful protest however is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of those upon whom the protest may impact, such as businesses and local communities. The role of the police is as arbitrators in managing this legislative balancing act, however there is a dearth of research into the role that the police undertake in balancing competing qualified human rights in protest events. This research seeks to address this lacuna by arguing that implementing a dialogical approach allows the police to balance such competing rights. Using semi-structured interviews with forty-eight police commanders, liaison officers, members of protest groups, businesses and other interested parties, this thesis provides evidence over two contrasting case studies; the policing of the badger cull in Devon and Cornwall and the policing of an English Defence League (EDL) march in Liverpool. This research argues that the police are emplaced not in opposition to those wishing to protest but as “piggy in the middle,” arbitrating between all interested parties and balancing the competing human rights of all those affected by the protest event. In addition to utilising the Elaborated Social Identity Model and the Flashpoints Model, both approaches which are further explored, the thesis also considers procedural justice theory as a base for examining dialogical policing. Further, this research argues that all three approaches are epistemologically compatible and combined provide a sound theoretical foundation from which a dialogical approach with both protest groups and other interested parties may be analysed. Furthermore, this thesis argues that there is value for all interested parties in engaging in dialogue and proposes that the application of a dialogical approach assists the police to balance the rights of all those engaged in the event and reduce conflict, by providing an open, proportionate and procedurally fair response.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: police; protest; human rights; decision-making; liaison; dialogue; public order; balancing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2019 11:03
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2022 11:55
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00010943
Supervisors: Millward, P and Yates, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10943

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