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Sociology: Research


Smash NATO/Operation Oak, Edinburgh 2009

We observed four days of protest surrounding the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Edinburgh in November 2009. Our original intention was to observe police/protestor interactions across different protest constituencies. However, since the more 'direct action' oriented protests were met by experimental efforts at 'protest facilitation' on the part of Lothian & Borders Police our study evolved into a close focus on this policing approach.

Two journal articles have been submitted relating to this study. The abstracts for these are noted below.

Gorringe, Rosie & Waddington: 'Left in the Cold: Facilitating Protest at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Edinburgh'

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, November 2009, witnessed a range of protests. The numbers of protestors were small and the summit was not attended by world leaders, but the event assumes significance against the backdrop of inquiries into protest policing at the G20. Perhaps for this reason direct action and ‘anarchist’ protest groups seeking to disrupt the Nato Assembly were met, in the first instance, by plainclothes police ‘facilitators’ rather than public order officers. Whilst the role of the facilitators is in its infancy this paper reflects on how this innovation in protest policing played out amongst a group inherently suspicious of the police, and draws out some initial lessons to be learned.

Key Words: Protest policing, Facilitation, Anarchists, Public Order, NATO

See a draft of the paper here.

Facilitating Ineffective Protest? The Policing of the 2009 Edinburgh NATO Protests

Abstract: This paper reports on innovations in public order policing during the protests surrounding the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, November 2009. When masked anarchist protesters determined to ‘smash Nato’ gathered on the streets on the first morning of the Assembly, they were initially confronted by three plainclothes police negotiators rather than a line of riot police. In this paper we draw on empirical data to offer an analysis of these developments and gauge the extent to which they meet the stated intentions of the police to ‘facilitate lawful protest’. Whilst welcoming the shift in attitudes and approach towards political protest, we argue that the accent on facilitation in this operation ultimately appeared neither innovative nor effective in practice and frequently reverted to styles of policing designed to contain protest.

Key Words: Protest; Policing; Nato; Negotiated Management

See a draft of the paper here.