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Riot Control Force Deployment

Maintaining public order during riots and large-scale disturbances requires well-coordinated deployment strategies. Security forces utilise various formations to manage crowds, protect property, and ensure the safety of individuals. This article explores the principles behind effective riot control force deployment, highlighting specific formations and their applications.

The arrowhead formation is a versatile tactic used to penetrate and split a crowd or provide an escort through a disorganised or friendly crowd. This formation can effectively divide a hostile group, reducing its ability to act cohesively. An inverted arrowhead at the rear can provide all-around protection, ensuring the safety of those within the formation.

A notable example of the arrowhead formation's effectiveness was during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Melbourne. When a segment of the protest became unruly, security forces employed the arrowhead formation to split the crowd and isolate the instigators. This tactic allowed the officers to regain control and de-escalate the situation without resorting to excessive force.

Left flanking and right flanking formations are essential for moving a crowd to the side or turning them away from sensitive areas such as buildings or fences. These tactics are particularly useful in situations where the goal is to redirect a crowd without direct confrontation.

During the 2005 Cronulla riots, police used flanking formations to move the crowd away from vulnerable areas and prevent further escalation of violence. By directing the crowd to the sides, officers were able to disperse the rioters and protect public and private properties from damage.

The line formation is deployed to move a crowd or mob straight back, effectively pushing them up the street or away from a particular area. This tactic is straightforward yet powerful in maintaining a controlled and measured retreat of the crowd.

At the 2007 APEC Summit protests in Sydney, police used the line formation to push back demonstrators attempting to breach security perimeters. The disciplined and steady advance of the line helped maintain order and prevent the crowd from overwhelming the security forces.

The application of these riot control formations is not merely theoretical but has been tested and refined through real-world experience. Each formation serves a specific purpose, and their effective use depends on the situation at hand and the crowd's behaviour.

The deployment of these formations must be balanced with a strategic use of force and restraint. Overly aggressive tactics can escalate tensions, while insufficient force may fail to maintain order. The key is to use these formations to create controlled movements and de-escalate potential violence.

In the case of the 2013 Brisbane G20 Summit protests, the strategic use of these formations, coupled with clear communication and measured force, helped manage large crowds and prevent significant disturbances. Security personnel were able to maintain control without resorting to excessive force, demonstrating the importance of balance in riot control.

Effective deployment of riot control formations requires thorough training and coordination among security personnel. Officers must be well-versed in the mechanics of each formation and capable of executing them seamlessly in high-pressure situations.

The handling of the 2020 Sydney climate protests showcased the benefits of extensive training and coordination. Security forces were able to deploy various formations quickly and efficiently, adapting to the changing dynamics of the crowd and maintaining order throughout the event.

Riot control force deployment is a critical aspect of maintaining public order during large-scale disturbances. The arrowhead, flanking, and line formations provide security forces with versatile tools to manage crowds, protect property, and ensure safety. Real-world examples from Australian events highlight the effectiveness of these tactics when applied with a balance of force and restraint.

By adhering to these principles and continuously refining their strategies, security forces navigate the complexities of crowd control with professionalism and efficacy. The lessons learned from past deployments underscore the importance of training, coordination, and a balanced approach to maintaining public order and protecting the rights of all individuals involved.

From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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