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Public Order and the Police

NCJ Number
K Sloan
Date Published
133 pages
This book on British civil disorder for police covers its history, free speech and right of public assembly and their limitations, the 1936 Public Order Act, the police role in quelling disorder, and disruptive political organizations.
The police were created in Britain in the 19th century to combat public disorder. However, the modern police, who must balance order keeping with guaranteed freedoms of assembly and speech, are often unsure when to intervene. Further complications arise over the right of citizens to use public buildings and highways as part of the right to assemble. Popular suggestions for alleviating public disorder include increasing government and police powers over public assemblies and declaring disruptive political parties illegal. Police can best control crowds by making the proper decision about showing their strength, thoroughly training and briefing officers about crowd control policy and methods, establishing and using special riot control units, and deploying sufficient numbers of officers. The Public Order Act of 1936, augmenting the Public Meeting Act of 1908, strengthens the law and controls disruptive political groups by forbidding political uniforms and Quasi-military organizations and widening police powers during processions. Other topics discussed include industrial disputes and legislation to control them, various English common law public disorder and related offenses, how other European countries deal with public disorder, and various existing disruptive political groups and their philosophies (Marxists, Maoists, Anarchists, etc.). Appendixes, tables, and a bibliography of 33 citations are included.