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Why the police riot? - part 4

Wesley Pritchard | 10.02.2009 03:13 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Repression

The British police public order manual is a secret document establishing a paramilitary third force in the UK, under the control of a private company (ACPO) with permission from the home office. It's long overdue that more information about this was in the public domain.

This is part 4 of a series, for parts 1-3 see:

Image whythepoliceriot_part4 - application/pdf 134K

Thames Valley Police FIT carry out a surveillance operation
Thames Valley Police FIT carry out a surveillance operation

Part 4: The Operational Knowledge

"There was a need better to identify tactical options on an operational plane, to distil the knowledge and experience available within police forces which was largely unwritten and fragmented. That achieved, it was considered useful to convert the operational knowledge gleaned to this manual form."

- Preface to ACPO Public Order Manual

At first sight, the Public Order Manual looks like a maintenance handbook for use by car mechanics, or a thick file of lecture notes which a student might carry under the arm. It is an A4 size ring binder with a blue plastic cover bearing in gold letters its title, Public Order Manual of Tactical Options and Related Matters, a police shield, and the originator’s imprint, Association of Chief Police Officers. At the top right-hand corner is its classification – RESTRICTED For ACPO Rank Only.

Its contents are arranged in five parts, with different coloured papers; each part is spaced into several sections, each of which, for ease of reference, is numbered on a card tab at the side.

Part One, in yellow, forms the introductory section. It begins by laying out the contents of each part, saying that Part One contains material which is either explanatory of the remainder, or is of a general nature. The Biblical status which police now accord to the manual appears to have been foreseen by its authors: ‘It is intended that a reading of these pages will sufficiently enlighten recipients of the manual to enable it to be used primarily as a reference book. This is necessary, since the sheer volume of information prohibits that it be viewed as something to be read, learned and inwardly digested.’ Part Two, it continues, will present the main body of the manual, the ‘tactical options’ likely to prove of operational relevance to chief officers. They will be presented, on white pages, in a hierarchy: ‘reflecting an escalating application of force by police’. It says the options all relate to the way manpower can be deployed, with or without specialist equipment. Part Three, in blue, will cover evidence gathering, and deal with aspects of obtaining and presenting information and evidence in a pre-disorder, riot and post-riot situation. The role of CID will be included, though some aspects of their deployment could equally be viewed as tactical options. This seems to be a coded reference to the critical importance the manual places on good intelligence-gathering as a means of forestalling or containing outbreaks of public disorder.

Part Four, in pink, will give details of ‘related matters’ which have no common theme save that they are generally relevant to the subject of community disorder. Part Five, in green, will consist of appendices with lists of factual information about which police forces have certain equipment and specialist groups. The whole manual, it stresses, should be viewed as the latest state of the art at the time of printing, and there will be frequent or rapid developments in relation to some matters.

Then follows a list of the uses to which chief officers may wish to put the manual. It takes care to present its contents as no more than options, as the title claims, which chief officers may wish to consider when making their own decisions. ‘Nothing in this manual’, it emphasizes, ‘indicates what must or should be done’. But there is a gentle reminder of the professional and political weight behind the ‘options’: ‘The recommendations have the support of ACPO and the Home Office but in no way purport to supplant the authority of chief officers.’ The point seems clear enough – any Chief Constable who chooses to ignore the collective view of his colleagues and the wishes of the Home Secretary and the Inspectorate of Constabulary, is perfectly free to do so.

The uses of the manual are listed as follows:


(a) To assist in perception of the relationship between escalation of community disorder towards rioting and the measured use of force by Police.

(b) To provide a reference point for chief officers who are deciding which tactical options they would wish to employ, (and therefore equip for if necessary), in the context of worsening community disorder.

(c) Against the background of centre core (national) training, to assist chief officers to assess their additional in-force training needs.

(d) To provide arguments in support of planned courses of action, in discussion with groups or authorities which may be involved in considering police deployments.

(e) To assist chief officers to consider additional resources, organization or deployments desirable in the even of serious disorder, which may require pre-planning.

(f) Generally, to assist chief officers in the formulation of Force Contingency Plans for serious public disorder, and/or directions to more junior officers.


(a) To assist in indicating the alternative police deployments possible when community disorder is on the increase; not least to show that options are limited.

(b) To assist in advising divisional commanders on deployments when the social climate is such that the degree of tranquillity achievable has to be balanced against the risk of triggering a worsening situation.

(c) To provide a quick source to review the advantages and disadvantages of an operational option which is available by reason of equipment, training, etc.

(d) To enhance the appreciation of the consequences, for better or worse, which may be expected to flow from the employment of a particular tactical option.

(e) To enable chief officers to be fully aware of the manoeuvres through which tactical options are implemented, so that they can give effective directions in an operational situation.

(f) In an existing operational riot situation to provide something of a checklist of back-up arrangements that need to be brought into play.

Part One, section four presents the hierarchy of options which are now considered acceptable for police use in controlling disorder. It begins with the axiom that, as the degree of violence used by rioters increases, it will be necessary for police to increase the measured application of force. For that reason, the white pages of Part Two will appear in a hierarchical order, ranging from normal policing methods right through to the use of firearms. But placing tactical options in order is acknowledged to be ‘a very inexact science’ because it is impossible to decide the order either on the supposed acceptability to the public, or on the degree of risk of causing injury. Furthermore, some tactical options can be seen as approximately parallel alternatives which cannot be placed above or below each other. These problems are resolved by offering a ranking of the tactical options based on ‘what might be thought to be degrees of acceptability’ rather than levels of risk. The critical question is which tactical options are considered appropriate in different circumstances. If policing is supposed to be based on the minimum use of force, then matching police tactics to the threat of violence they face becomes an important art. The manual attempts some general guide-lines, by defining six stages of escalation of a riot and a further four stages of de-escalation, and then listing the tactical options which are considered ‘appropriate’ at each stage.


(a) the following are the stages of a riot as defined below:
1. NORMALITY { Escalation
4. RIOTING { "
7. IMMEDIATE POST-RIOT } De-Escalation

(b) Normality
The situation which requires no more than normal policing, which will itself vary from one area to another.

(c) High Tension
The situation in the community when feelings are running high and the potential for disorder is perceived as considerably increased.

(d) Sporadic Disorder
The situation in a community when there are frequent outbreaks of disorder, any of which might trigger a riot.

(e) Rioting
This is taken to mean when an incident has in fact triggered serious public disorder in an area. This definition marks the shift in emphasis from the general temper of the community to a specific incident. How widespread it may be is not relevant to the definition.

(f) Serious Rioting
Rioting which includes arson, use of petrol bombs, looting, occupation of premises, hostage taking, etc.

(g) Lethal Rioting
Rioting which includes the use of weapons designed to kill; in particular, firearms.

(h) Immediate Post-Rioting
This is the period of hours or days following rioting during which clearing up operations continue against a background of high risk of renewed rioting.

(i) Community Unrest
This is the much longer period during which a community settles down after a riot, against a background of media attention. The shift of emphasis is back to the temper of the community.

(j) Normality
This is when it is considered that ‘normal policing’ can be resumed.

The manual accepts that the stages of rioting as defined are not watertight compartments. For example, it says that high tension will certainly merge into sporadic disorder in a way which will defy identification of limits. None the less, police action must be tailored to the unrest they face, and the process of classification is therefore inevitable: ‘The sole value in trying to identify the stages of a riot is the relevance to determining the weight or nature of the police response.’ Two paragraphs later, the point is repeated with the specific advice that analysing a riot into stages affords assistance ‘in deciding which, in the hierarchy of tactical options, is appropriate to the circumstances appertaining’.

It is easy to see how senior officers taking operational decisions during public disorder could come to read their Public Order Manual not merely as a list of options but as endorsement and approval from the highest level for action which falls within its guide-lines. The manual does not take from them the responsibility for making a judgment as to how police should act, but it does make crystal clear what is considered acceptable and ‘appropriate’ by those at the top of the political tree. An officer consulting it is likely to conclude that if he sticks to the manual his back is covered.

In the condition of Normality, the ‘appropriate’ tactical options are normal policing and the use of community intervenors.

In a state of High Tension the options are: normal policing, community intervenors, information management, intensive foot patrols and special patrol groups/task forces.

When Sporadic Disorder breaks out, the options extend to normal policing, community intervenors, information management, intensive foot patrols, special patrol groups/task forces, protected officers, control of public/private transport, protected vehicles, Police Support Units, saturation policing, standoff/regroup, artificial lighting systems, cordons, check points, barriers, barricade removal, controlled sound levels, long shields, short shields, warning messages.

Once Rioting occurs, the appropriate tactical options are community intervenors, information management, protected officers, protected vehicles, standoff/regroup, artificial lighting systems, cordons, check points, barriers, barricade removal, controlled sound levels, long shields, short shields, warning messages, mounted police, police dogs, arrest teams, baton charges (short baton), long batons.

When rioting gives way to Serious Rioting, four additional tactical options are considered appropriate: tactical use of vehicles, smoke, baton rounds, CS agents.

In the ultimate stage, Lethal Rioting, one further tactical option is added: firearms.

Once the worst is over, the four stages of de-escalation reduce the list of appropriate options as follows:

Post-Rioting: options from community intervenors up to protected vehicles;

Sporadic Disorder: options from community intervenors up to special patrol group/task force;

Community Unrest: normal policing up to special patrol group/task force;

Normality: normal policing and community intervenors.

It seems likely that, at some stage, the working group compiling the manual considered one other option – water cannon. The option appears in this hierarchy, sandwiched between smoke and baton rounds, but there is no further reference to it and it does not appear among the tactical options listed in Part Two.

The manual then goes into some logistical considerations which will not be given in detail here. They concern the timing of strategic decisions to make arrests, or disperse a crowd, to establish a police base-line while reinforcements are awaited, and in some circumstances to withdraw altogether. There is also an analysis of the chances of success of police operations under different numerical ratios of rioters to police officers.

There are then some general remarks about the approaches to crowd dispersal, beginning with an injunction to use only minimum force. The methods employed by the police, it warns, must be wholly appropriate to the temper of the crowd against a background of the local community situation.

An attempt should first be made to persuade crowds to disperse peacefully, without the need for direct or indirect physical contact with the police. This can be attempted on a voluntary basis, by using the least provocative method of achieving crowd dispersal, namely persuading a leader within the crowd to take the initiative and promote dispersal. If any community intervenors are available, they may be able to pull this off. If they fail, the next approach is by a display of force. ‘This may be as ostentatious as possible, or more subtle.’ The advantage of ostentatious display by the police is said to be that it may encourage curious spectators to disperse, separating them off from determined rioters. A more subtle display of force can then be made to those left behind, using officers with shields to suggest that the police strategy is to surround the rioters. Officers visibly displayed on rooftops, perhaps equipped with the paraphernalia of photography, will increase the apprehension of the rioters. ‘Crowd dispersal, like crowd assembly, is infectious and once a crowd begins to disperse it should normally be allowed to melt away.’

If a display of force does not work, police can move on to verbal or visual persuasion, giving a warning message of the kind outlined in Section 20 of Part Two as a tactical option. The manual goes to some trouble to point out several pitfalls in this approach:

(i) Pleas – requests based on moral grounds are more effective when made from a position of physical strength. Rioting crowds are well aware when police are numerically weak and public announcements from such a position may be counterproductive.

(ii) Promise – there is a risk that promises made in a confrontation situation may cause subsequent embarrassment. Officers in command must ensure that they do not exceed their authority to strike bargains, having regard to their duty to enforce the law.

(iii) Warnings – care must be taken to phrase warnings in such a way that they cannot subsequently be represented as threats. At the same time they should be credible to the crowd in that the police must clearly be seen to have both the capability and intention of giving effect to the course of action detailed in the warning.

At the same time, the manual says that it will probably still be desirable to reduce the size of the crowd by allowing some persons to disperse. If this is so, the crowd should be told that those wishing to depart peaceably may still do so, indicating a controlled exit point. At this stage, police may already have formed a base-line, which is a point beyond which the crowd will not be allowed to advance and behind which command and control systems for police officers on duty can be established.

Then dispersal can be attempted by physical means. The police may stick to their traditional way of policing crowds, namely close contact pressure. But this is said to be ‘generally an inappropriate means of dealing with a rioting crowd’. Or they may decide to ‘approach with impetus’, in which case ‘it is the menace or impetus of approach that proves the incentive for dispersal’. Several of the tactical options are based on this technique. Or the police may decide to use specialist weapons, about which further explanation is offered in this section.

Then the manual explains the military origin and connotation of some of its new terminology, giving examples of military language it has adopted for use by the police. It leaves no room for fainthearts:

"Such words constitute an important part of the vocabulary of strategic and tactical planning and for police officers, whose ordinary duties do not include such thought processes, it is necessary to make a conscious effort to tune in on this level." [This section is reproduced in full in part 1]

There is then another plug for the Public Order Forward Planning Unit based at New Scotland Yard, and Part One of the manual draws to its close.


Part Two opens with a sense of embarrassment. The first of the thirty tactical options it contains is none other than Normal Policing. Its inclusion in the hierarchy of options which culminates in plastic bullets, CS gas and firearms is said to be ‘somewhat uncomfortable’, and justified only by the need to preserve a progressive thread through the manual.

The exposition begins with a couple of truisms. In ‘normal policing’, it says, personnel are conventionally dressed and equipped and vehicles are traditional in appearance. It is only when normal policing has broken down that the other tactical options described in the manual become relevant: ‘With the exception of community intervenors, normal policing methods are in direct contrast to every other section in this manual, particularly in relation to protected officers and vehicles, and the use of specialist weapons.’ The significance of ‘normal policing’ for the rest of the manual is presented in terms of its potential for prevention of disorder. It can play a major part in ensuring that such incidents do not occur at all. The essential role of local beat officers is to counteract the escalation of minor incidents into fullscale unrest, and to serve as ‘an invaluable dual channel of information between the community and police commanders’. The exact nature of this dual channel is left unexplained at this stage.

Local beat officers should be kept out of any police manoeuvre which could involve them in a violent confrontation within their own community. Their status and morale should be increased by recognizing their work in establishing local contacts, which can be a difficult and protracted task. They should be seen as specialists, not merely a reserve of manpower. Four objectives for dealing with disorder by means of normal policing are laid down:

a) To conform to an accepted and traditional image;
b) To be seen to be policing with the minimum of force;
c) To retain the greatest possible degree of public support and confidence;
d) To avoid any action which may either provoke further disorder, or subsequently be used as an excuse for escalation.

These objectives represent the basis of traditional British policing. It is sobering to read them again with an imaginary NOT in front of each, bearing in mind the manual’s comment that the rest of its tactical options stand in direct contrast to normal policing. As we shall see in later chapters, there are explicit warnings that other options can breach one or all of these four objectives.

The manual then sets out the reasons for abandoning normal policing methods in some circumstances. They appear formally as a list of disadvantages of normal policing. But they may be read as ACPO’s private justification for the change of direction it introduced after 1981. They are as follows:

(i) Is unable to contain other than minor incidents of disorder;
(ii) Exposes officers to the risk of injury;
(iii) Officers may regard the risk of injury as unnecessary, and their apprehension will cause both their morale and effectiveness to diminish;
(iv) If the Option (i.e. normal policing) is retained beyond the time it ceases to be appropriate, the range of Options and manoeuvres subsequently available can be considerably narrowed.

It then adds a ‘special consideration’ which goes to the heart of the matter: ‘The police commander, using professional judgment, will decide when and where normal policing methods cease to be appropriate. It is a crucial decision, and forms the central dilemma of policing public disorder.’ Then, just in case anybody has missed the point, the option of normal policing is formally recommended for use.

The next six options fall under Section 2 – Community intervenors. They expand the comments about local beat officers and the value of their work in forming local contacts. Four areas of contact are outlined in detail: liaison with elected representatives, community representatives, education services and centres of religion. They form option 1-4 of this section. Option 5 explains the tactical use of community intervenors before, during and after an outbreak of disorder, as exemplified by the uses made of Father Brown in tackling the problems of the Carruthers Estate. Option 6 covers the establishment of ‘rumour centres’ during periods of public disorder, in an attempt to counter any false or malicious stories which could inflame the situation.

The same point is covered more extensively in Section 3 – Information management, which presents eighteen recommended options for the management of rumours in times of tension. Police officers are recommended to set up rumour centres, to use their network of community links, and to open telephone information services. Their strategy should be to forestall rumours where possible, to refute them or minimize their content, or to create a diversion. They should keep up a file of news clippings and use their own media information releases and filmstrips. They are told how to set up a briefing information service for journalists and how to approach television and radio news bulletins.

Two recommended options are particularly noteworthy. The first is the establishment of a ‘media rumour clinic’ within a local radio station or a local newspaper office, to which members of the public are encouraged to write or telephone stories circulating in their neighbourhood. The clinics should be operated with police assistance and should keep a finger on the pulse of local attitudes, anxieties and potential for community disorder. They can try to act as the link and mediator in any confrontation or misunderstanding, and publish or broadcast information accordingly. They can put an end to disruptive rumour by providing factual accounts. The disadvantages of such a rumour clinic are listed as its reliance on the integrity and objectivity of the media management, the inability of the police to control its running, and its potential for drawing police into a political arena ‘with the real issues becoming overshadowed’. With these points in mind, a special consideration is recommended:

"The motives and political leanings of media management require careful scrutiny before local police forces can contemplate participation in such a scheme since the ability for police to control information content is severely limited and the danger exists that certain disruptive elements could use the scheme as a political platform from which to attack the police. No such scheme is currently known to be in being in the UK, but the idea has worked successfully in certain US cities."

The second noteworthy option concerns ‘restrictive measures’. The manual says that this tactic involves police forces taking the initiative in disrupting the information flow emanating from some person or organization intent on spreading anti-police or disruptive propaganda within a tense community. The essence of the tactic lies in making use of the type of information dissemination being used by hostile groups, and turning their own methods to the advantage of the police. Suggested measures are broadcast replies, open debate or the use of information leaflets: ‘This Option does not involve the use of dishonest or unethical tricks, but place the emphasis on quick-witted response and an ability to turn methods of propaganda or rumour presentation to advantage.’ Once again, it is stressed that the police should take care not to be drawn into political or stage-managed debate or confrontations.

The manual, in a departure from form, also takes the curious step of describing four further options which it insists are ‘not recommended for use’. One is that no action be taken to counter rumours; another that rumour centres be established operated by a non-police agency; another concerns the appointment of rumour control monitors; and the fourth outlines tactics to discredit opponents.

Section 4 gives six options for Intensive foot patrols, which involve increasing the number of officers on each beat, or reducing the area to be covered, or both at once.

From Section 5 onwards, the tactical options move into a different style which abandons the ‘traditional image’ of British policing, in favour of the protective clothing, NATO helmets and riot shields which have come to symbolize the control of public order in the eighties. These new tactics and manoeuvres will be discussed in Parts 5 and 6.

Before leaving traditional methods behind, it may help the clarity of this account to take one later portion of the manual out of order and consider it now. It appears after full range of tactical options has been laid out, as the first section of Part Three. But it relates closely to the routine of normal policing, with an emphasis on foreseeing unrest before it breaks out, and taking steps to prevent it. It is the section concerning Gathering and assessment of information/intelligence.


This discussion of information and intelligence gathering begins by distinguishing between the two. Information is defined as the hard facts coming to notice, while intelligence is the assessment and analysis of this information. Police operational intelligence before disorder, that is to say under conditions of normal policing, is presented as simply a designed system of gathering and processing information, which can and should do no more than provide the operational commander with a better understanding of the true picture facing him. ‘The collation of information and intelligence should be the foundation upon which all plans for policing large scale public disorder are based.’

This emphasis on good intelligence echoes the view of Roy Henry, the Commissioner of the Royal Hong Kong Police when ACPO turned to them for guidance in 1981. He maintains that the first crucial area in controlling public order should be the intelligence network:

You have to have a special branch, an intelligence gathering machine which is charged with the function of warning and keeping the government alert to what the current situation is. If you know what is going to happen you can prepare for it. Even if there is no warning at all and a flash situation occurs, or a sudden mass reaction to something, then you still need an intelligence machine to follow it up and see how it develops. You have got to be well informed.

The Public Order Manual adopted for use in Britain divides information into three categories:

(i) Live intelligence, which is of immediate concern to effective planning of police operations;
(ii) Strategic intelligence, which is primarily long-range with little immediate operational value;
(iii) Counter intelligence, which aids the police to respond to or neutralize anti-police propaganda or rumours circulating within a community.

Sources of police information and intelligence are given as: informants; publications, including news clipping service and extremist literature; observation and surveillance procedures; comprehensive de-briefing of officers. Together, they form ‘the total intelligence product’.

Collection of information is said to include ‘development of sources of information in all levels of society within an affected community’. Processing this data is mainly carried out manually but ACPO looks forward to an automated future:

With the advance of computerization of police records systems, many researchers see the time approaching when detailed decisions in the public order context will be possible using sophisticated equipment, allied to monitoring techniques and industrial methods.

Accompanying any such future system must be safeguards to ensure the accuracy of all data within the system, and the presence of all pertinent information. Controls must be designed to ensure accuracy and security of reports upon which management decisions are made. This section of the manual does not cover computerized data processing but mention is made at this stage to indicate the manner in which the system can be established and developed making use of modern equipment and techniques assuming that the political climate permits.

Some police forces, still working within the limitations of manual data-processing, have introduced a routine intelligence system known as ‘tension indicators’. It is designed to offer local commanders and senior officers at force headquarters a regular assessment of the potential for disorder in different parts of their area. Each month, or each week in some cases, reports from police divisions are sent by telex to a central intelligence division, where they are compiled into a convenient digest of possible trouble. In some cases, a summary is prepared and added as a front-sheet, drawing attention to particular causes of concern. The whole document can be ready for the Chief Constable in the space of a morning.

The manual recommends this approach to every force and offers a check-list of indicators which lends formality to the traditional methods of predicting unrest; observation, experience and intuition. Police officers working in all parts of a force area are required to watch the approved indices of community tension and report developments to their superiors. The official checklist is as follows:

(i) abuse and attacks on police officers and vehicles
(ii) increase in complaints against police
(iii) increase in disturbances between groups: such as school disturbances; volatile public area/park situations; racial, religious or nationalistic; serious conflicts between gangs; racial, religious or ethnic bomb/arson threats or incidents
(iv) racial attacks
(v) marches or demonstrations
(vi) all night parties/concerts by ethnic groups
(vii) anniversaries of significant events
(viii) attitude of the media or underground press.

This list is not considered exhaustive and local additions to it are encouraged. The manual points to a need for all operational police officers to be aware of tension indicators and to report their observations for collation and assessment. Recruits should learn the system in their training programme, and Special Constables volunteering for duty should be made aware of the ‘unique opportunity’ they enjoy to collect information. In turn, the staff at headquarters are required to report back to each division once information has been transformed into intelligence, and not merely to let it become the basis for statistics in a central department.

The manual recognizes that the tension indicators system carries a serious disadvantage in that police officers may perceive problems where in reality none exists and thereby distort the eventual assessment. It offers no way of avoiding this danger.

There is a detailed discussion of the use of Informants, which is said to be common in both overt and covert situations. CID, Special Branch and other departments are said to depend to a considerable extent on the cultivation and use of informants, and all branches of the police service are recommended to develop the practice with respect to public order. In particular, they should recognize the tactical significance of information direct from ‘subversive groups’. Inside information is said to destroy the advantage such groups gain from their activities being clandestine, and inside informants are described as being like an internal haemorrhage to the human body. There is a cautionary paragraph about the motivation of informants, which stresses that it would be naïve to suppose the majority of them to be prompted by public spiritedness rather than thoughts of gain, grudge against other individuals and in-fighting between criminal elements of militant groups:

"The type of tense community prone to disorder tends to host a number of organizations purporting to represent the community and using the situation as a political platform. Invariably there is a degree of in-fighting between these groups with scope for cultivation of informants."

There is then a long description of the legal limits governing the use of ‘participating informants’, that is, those who take part in the (sometimes criminal) activities about which they gave information.

Other procedures are set out for establishing Observation posts within a tense community, like the spotter flat inside the fictitious Carruthers Estate, and for population surveillance in the form of observation of targeted individuals, vehicles, premises and locations to record activities. Reference is made to ‘the already well-understood methods and range of technological aids’ available for this purpose:

"Consideration should be given to the formation of composite undercover surveillance teams made up of experienced CID officers to identify organizers and perpetrators of offences, either from available staff or by mutual aid. A ready supply may be found in such areas as Special Branch and drugs squads."

It is recommended that all forces set up a central system of intelligence, linking divisions together through District Information Units. Among the advantages claimed for such a system, in terms of making best use of available information, is one which goes beyond the interests of the local force: it ‘can provide a compatible system of information and intelligence for dealing with all types of disorder affecting the national scene and channelling of relevant information to a central point’. Those wondering what the authors of the manual might have in mind at this point, and what might be included under ‘all types of disorder affecting the national scene’, are not left to wonder for very long:

The need was recognized during the National Union of Mineworkers dispute to introduce a greater degree of co-ordination to improve national techniques between force in receiving, assessing and disseminating information and intelligence relative to the dispute.

As a result, a Central Intelligence Unit was form to co-ordinate and analyse selected information and intelligence, to identify trends and patterns affecting operational bearing on deployment and resources, and to identify individuals engaged in crime who cross force boundaries.

Appointing force Intelligence Officers selected for an ability in handling information and analytical skills, within those forces directly affected by the dispute, enabled the collation of relevant intelligence ensuring it was effectively processed and disseminated through to force command and control, interested forces and the Central Intelligence Unit.

The manual does not tell even its elite readership who it was who ‘recognized’ the need for this national centre of police intelligence, nor how it was controlled and to whom it answered. Nor does it say if the Central Intelligence Unit was disbanded at the end of the dispute which gave it birth.


Wesley Pritchard


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