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Crowd Control and Management: techniques and definitions

17 May 2011 | 16:32

Crowd Control and Management: techniques and definitions

Crowd control is a topic that spans across many different sectors. Much research has been conducted outside the humanitarian sector into crowd behaviours and dynamics but some of this research can be fed into security planning at mass distribution sites. As a paper by the Norwegian Refugee Council states, “Distribution sites can quickly become chaotic, crowded and potentially dangerous places to both field staff as well as beneficiaries.”

RedR have written briefly about crowds and mobs in a training manual on site security. The paper differentiates between a crowd which is a peaceful gathering of people who have a lawful reason for gathering and a mob, which is an aggressive group of people with a malevolent purpose. The primary goal is to ensure a crowd does not turn into a mob, which has been known to occur at tense and crowded distribution sites. The training manual identifies the primary three steps of pre-emption, defusing the situation and containment. It is also identified as important to work out why a crowd may turn into a mob, for example lack of information or time and a lack of organisation. Therefore, crowd management should be integrated into a planning and security management for distribution programmes. Further distinctions are to be made between crowd management, which is defined as the systematic planning for, and supervision of, the orderly movement and assembly of people and crowd control, which is the restriction or limitation of group behaviour. This needs to be clarified within plans and training.

A further area where NGOs can learn from external sources is crowd simulation techniques that have been developed by event organisers and academics on crowd behaviours. There has been extensive research done on how people behave in crowds and how to anticipate crowd dynamics by modelling more accurately crowd movements and behaviours.


Understanding Crowd Behaviours: Guidance and Lessons Identified
University of Leeds and Emergency Planning College, Cabinet Office. June 2009

This practical report summarises the current body of knowledge on the topic, articulating current understandings of good practice in crowd management and giving planners clear direction, and supporting information, regarding the safe assumptions that may be made about crowd behaviour. This guidance aims to fill a gap in the canon of guidance, and contains information that aims to be of value to a broad cross-section of the public safety and resilience community. The report has been broken down into four sections: Understanding Crowd Behaviours: Guidance and Lessons Identified; Understanding Crowd Behaviours: Supporting Evidence; Understanding Crowd Behaviours: Simulation Tools and Understanding Crowd Behaviours: Supporting Documentation.


Crowd Behaviour, Crowd Control and the use of non-lethal weapons
Human Effects Advisory Panel Report of Findings; Institute for non-lethal defence technologies January 2001

This document is a report on the findings of a panel that convened in September 2001 to discuss crowd control knowledge and theory. The panel resulted from previous work done on the use of non-lethal weapons and many of the individuals on the panel are non-lethal weapons experts. The document covers there main areas that were discussed, namely what we know and don’t know about crowd control behaviours; the negotiation technique, a decision making guideline for crowd control and a road map for future research on crowd control. As a result the paper is a theoretical academic paper that covers a lot of the current knowledge and theory about cultures, behaviours and reasons for assembling. The report does, however, also include education and training guidelines for crowd control.

Site Security Training Module for NGOs
Jan Davis; RedR - Produced for the OFDA/InterAction PVO Security Task Force. July 1998

This training manual covers all aspects of site security, including residential, office and warehouse security. The section 7.0 entitled crowds and mobs aims to differentiate between the two, tips for crowd management and list reasons for why a crowd should get out of control to assist in this management. The manual also suggests a contingency plan if the situation does deteriorate and advice if you are confronted by a mob.

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