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The Principles of Personal Behaviour in Crowd Control




In the realm of crowd control, security personnel must navigate a complex landscape of maintaining order, protecting life and property, and respecting individual rights. The following principles of personal behaviour are crucial for security officers to effectively manage crowds, prevent escalation, and uphold the law. By standing firm, using reasonable force, and avoiding unnecessary engagement, security personnel can ensure safety and order even in the most challenging situations.


Security personnel must maintain a firm stance without yielding to pressure from the crowd. This involves avoiding unnecessary conversation, refraining from exchanging unrequited pleasantries, and not giving the impression that orders will not be enforced. The primary duty is to maintain order and protect life and property.


During the 2005 Cronulla riots, security personnel and police officers faced intense pressure from large, hostile crowds. Those who maintained their ground and avoided unnecessary engagement were more successful in preventing escalation and ensuring public safety. This approach underscores the importance of standing firm and maintaining a clear, authoritative presence.


When dealing with lawbreakers, it is essential to take them into custody and turn them over to the police for arrest immediately. This action reinforces the rule of law and deters others from engaging in unlawful behaviour. However, the use of reasonable force is paramount to avoid inciting further aggression. Depending on the organisational goals and priorities of the company you work for arrest may not be an option for your cite or workplace.


During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Sydney, instances where lawbreakers were swiftly and reasonably taken into custody helped to de-escalate potentially volatile situations. Conversely, excessive force by police in some cases led to heightened tensions and further unrest. These examples highlight the need for a balanced and measured approach to enforcing the law.


The use of reasonable force is critical in crowd control. Overlooking violations or defiance of lawful orders can undermine authority, while the use of unreasonable force can incite a crowd that might otherwise remain passive or curious. Ensuring that charges of brutality have no basis in fact is essential for maintaining credibility and public trust.


The handling of the 2014 G20 Summit protests in Brisbane serves as a cautionary tale. Reports of police officers using excessive force fueled public outrage and prolonged the unrest. In contrast, more restrained and measured responses in other incidents have demonstrated the effectiveness of reasonable force in maintaining order without exacerbating tensions.


Security personnel should remain on the fringe of the crowd, avoiding close proximity to or mingling with hostile groups. This strategy allows for better observation of crowds and individual activities while waiting for reinforcements. Being out of reach and maintaining vigilance are key to preventing personal harm and managing the situation effectively.


During the 2007 APEC Summit protests in Sydney, officers who maintained a strategic distance from hostile crowds were better able to monitor the situation and respond appropriately. This approach prevented direct confrontations and allowed for a more controlled response when reinforcements arrived.


In any crowd control scenario, the safety and support of fellow officers are paramount. If an officer is physically attacked, immediate assistance is necessary to arrest the assailant and prevent further assaults. Allowing an attacker to escape can embolden others to target security personnel.


The 1992 protest against logging in Tasmania's forests highlighted the importance of mutual support among officers. In several instances, security officers who quickly assisted their colleagues under attack helped to prevent further violence and restore order. This principle of mutual assistance is vital for maintaining a cohesive and effective security presence.


Security personnel must refrain from participating in crowd activities, especially in aggressive situations. When faced with a barrage of rocks, sticks, or bottles, it is crucial not to retaliate. Instead, withdrawing to a safe distance until dispersal operations can commence is the prudent course of action.


The 2013 protests against coal seam gas mining in New South Wales demonstrated the dangers of engaging with aggressive crowds. Instances where security forces retaliated against projectiles resulted in increased hostility and violence. In contrast, strategic withdrawals and controlled responses helped to manage the situation more effectively.


The principles outlined above are not merely theoretical; they have been tested and validated in real-world scenarios. From the Cronulla riots to the Black Lives Matter protests, these guidelines have proven effective in maintaining order and ensuring safety. By standing firm, using reasonable force, remaining vigilant, and supporting fellow officers, security personnel can navigate the complexities of crowd control with professionalism and efficacy.


The behaviour of security personnel in crowd control situations is critical to maintaining public safety and order. By adhering to the principles of firmness, reasonable force, strategic positioning, mutual support, and restraint, security officers can effectively manage crowds and prevent escalation. These principles, rooted in judicial philosophy, economics, psychology, and security expertise, provide a robust framework for handling large crowd events with confidence and authority. Through careful application of these guidelines, security personnel can uphold their duty to protect life and property while respecting the rights of all individuals.


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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