Intra-police communication in public order police management

Michael Harrison, Jane Adlard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009 and the destructiveness of the English Riots in 2011 brought unprecedented coverage to public order police (POP) strategies and tactics. These events signalled a watershed in POP management that inferred greater responsibility and stronger leadership. In these high stake environments senior officers have to manage multiple dynamics. In addition to managing crowds, commanders have to consider external culpability and alleviate concerns from junior officers. Effective communication with officers and other external parties could potentially negate troublesome situations. The research presented in this paper investigates communicative instructions delivered by commanding officers at a small number of POP events. It identifies instances of how leadership is communicated and how accountable situations are managed. A micro-level discourse analysis was used to analyse the data. This approach evaluates discursive linguistic categories that interlocutors use ‘to perform actions and functions, such as blame, accuse, defend, justify, rationalise and achieve argumentative ends’ [Lyons et al. 2011. It’s not really discriminating against immigrants, it’s more telling people how to fit in. Constructing the nation in Immigration Talk in New Zealand. Journal of community and applied social psychology, 21 (1), 14–27, p. 17]. The findings suggest that some commanders use a range of linguistic resources when articulating leadership and managing accountable situations. The authors concede that the scope in this analysis is limited but are hopeful that research of this kind will act as a catalyst for further investigation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalPolicing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy
    Issue number3
    Early online date4 Apr 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Public order policing
    • police communication
    • police management
    • accountability
    • leadership
    • discourse analysis


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