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Sussex police unleash their new weapon: 'crowd psychology'

Cop Watcher | 08.06.2012 19:53 | Smash EDO | Analysis | Policing | Repression | South Coast

Sussex Police have hired top riot specialist and crowd psychologist Dr. Clifford Stott to train local coppers on new mind control tactics to undermine social movements.

Sussex police have recently started to use new forms of repressive tactics for policing demonstrations. They seem to have taken a break from head cracking to trial what they have termed 'Police Liaison Officers' or PLOs at the recent Smash EDO demonstration on June 4th. This may not be simply a new fad by the cops, but could be part of a new era of repression based on the relatively new 'science' of crowd psychology. The PLOs are the brainchild of Dr. Clifford Stott, a crowd psychologist working with the cops to 'manage' crowds. This man was seen at the Smash EDO demo wearing a blue observer vest, presumably to check up on his PLOs he'd just trained.

He tweeted this last week just before the Smash EDO demo A brilliant few days creating PLTs in Sussex. A long way to go but a rubicon has been crossed. Helping secure ECHR based approaches!

The Sussex Police PLOs are predominately female, and use a nicey-nicey approach to try and create the illusion that they are the "good" people and on our side. On top of this, Graham Bartlett, the local police chief has "praised" Smash EDO for their good behaviour.

Crowd psychology seeks to pacify social movements by creating a situation where the crowd 'self polices'. The following is a description of how this could be used in practice by leading crowd psychologists:

"using a 'dialogue police' unit, whose officers work before, during and after risky situations to communicate with radical groups and getting the crowd to “self-police” by actively undermining those trying to initiate “trouble” or at the very least making it easier for the cops to deal with them."

This is almost exactly what we saw at the recent Smash EDO demo.

After the riots it seems the police are finding new and invidious ways to keep us in our place, which is leading to a new form of policing where police are integrated into the crowd, not as undercovers, as they have been previously, but as part of it. Crowd psychology, if it takes off, may result in a form of repression which is more dangerous to social movements than water cannon or rubber bullets, as it creates a situation where the public become more sympathetic to the police than to those facing repression. On top of that, PLOs suck the energy and solidarity away from the people on the streets. What is clear is we need to make sure we do not allow our demonstrations to be infiltrated by the police in this way and we make sure they are not welcome. Once we allow them to be part of our demos in this way we have already lost, as it will be the cops and not us calling the shots.

The use of this new tactic shows us the cops are out of their depth and cannot deal with the new wave of social unrest sweeping the UK in recent years. To beat them at their game we have to stay one step ahead of them by understanding these tactics and what they mean for us before they are truly put to use.

You can see more about Dr. Clifford Stott and his theories here:

Facebook page:
LinkedIn profile:
Twitter feed:!/CliffordStott
Centre for Investigative Psychology profile:

Cop Watcher


Hide the following 11 comments

mates of mates

08.06.2012 21:15

is this the guy associated with lefty radical academic journal aufheben based in brighton and are friends with the people who run the libcom website?

neck thick


08.06.2012 21:56

This isn't the man himself who was associated with aufheben, but is one of his fellow 'academics' in crowd psychology. I imagine he would be less up for showing his face at demos given the whole controversy he created. I'm pretty sure this guy has worked with the person you're referring to on a lot of his theories.

Cop Watcher

On conflict

08.06.2012 22:30

It appears Mr. Stott also has his own consultancy firm to "assist Police, Government and other agencies to deliver the most effective and efficient forms of crowd management" ( Stott's stated goal of reducing conflict may, on the surface, seem worthwhile. However, as Hegel, Marx and Mao all noted, conflict is a necessary part of human existence and struggle. Only through conflict and contradiction do we have any hope of moving forward as a society.

The alternative to a society without conflict would be to live in Switzerland or Basingstoke. But even these places have conflict. Rather than trying to obfuscate and hide conflict in order to strengthen the existing neo-liberal consensus, we should seek to expose the ruling classes for what they are through conflict. This was the lesson taught by Ghandi, King, Mandela and Occupy. We do not seek consensus, rather we should seek to unmask it for what it is: oppression.



08.06.2012 23:02

Police praise for being 'peaceful' simply reinforces their lie that its the protesters that start the violence in the first place. The police (and the Green council leader for that matter) only seek to reinforce their own authority when they cast themselves as our moral guides and guardians.

Classic counter insurgency psyops.

Your hearts and minds have been targetted.


Aufheben link

08.06.2012 23:21

'He has worked closely with Dr Steve Reicher (St Andrews) and Dr John Drury (Sussex) in developing the Elaborated Social Identity Model of crowd behaviour'

Dr John Jury was the academic named in the Aufheben controversy


Death to Fascism, Death to State Terrorism

09.06.2012 16:53

The blueshirts are little more than useful idiots of the system and have no real weight in negotiations, with the so-called psychology being nothing but insider sabotage of the proportions of a crime against humanity... once a crowd wakes up the blueshirts can remove their colour and immediately blend in with other cops, so how credible can it be what they are being paid for?

out of the


09.06.2012 21:03

Did I get that right?
Sussex police are joining the PLO?
Things are looking up! ;)


Nepoleaon control-alot! Obnicous and nasty!

10.06.2012 10:33

Its Reading university that does most croud control psychology, including kettling. A mass rally seems harder to introduce control than marches.

First its consensus with police "intelligence". Then its agreeing to light control policing for traffic mangement, then suddenly its kettling...

Maybe we should preactively interviene when attacked with the 'dark-science' of crowd psychology. Refuse any chatter with them, refuse police leaflets, refuse soft cops, refuse to be kettled...

Kettling should have extreme consequences for them, they shouldnt gety away with it...

If everyones kettled off the streets, theres always the august-riots option! A fire swarming, looting, booting and widespread unstoppable rage of delight!

Spike Swarm!

excellent analysis

10.06.2012 15:34

Spot on.

It was interesting to see the reaction of sussex police after their police liaison were made so very obviously unwelcome at the SmashEdo demonstration. In a statement to the local paper, Ch Supt Bartlett made the following remarkable claim:

“While those involved in today's event chose not to speak directly with us in advance, most on the march today were happy to talk to liaison officers"

This is a blatant untruth. The liaison officers he referred to were consistently blocked, harassed and physically barged out of the crowd. Pretty much the only reason anyone talked to them was to continually and repeatedly ask them to leave.

The police capacity to lie is not the notable thing here (that should not come as any great surprise). What is interesting is the determination they had to present what was a disastrous day for them with a positive spin. The last thing they want is for the idea to spread that they can be successfully and physically kicked off demonstrations.

Like other public order policing strategies, police liaison is a strategy of control. But it will only work if we let it work. Like FIT, Police Liasison need to be given the boot.

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Crowded Out

02.07.2012 12:57

Stott's involvement with Sussex police rally does raise serious questions. great play has been made of his academic status and role at Liverpool University, by both the police and Stott himself, they are less forward about the fact he is working for them as a paid consultant.
It woul be interesting to see what an academic would make of this.
For more coverage of Clifford Stott's unhealthy relationship with Sussex Police, and the forces questionable motives visit:

Roland Ravenhill
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