Dr Clifford Stott
Principal Research Fellow in Security and Justice
I am the Principal Research Fellow for the Security and Justice Research Group, an inter-disciplinary research cluster within the University of Leeds ‘Building Sustainable Societies’ Project. I specialize in understanding crowds, ‘riots’, ‘hooliganism’ and public order policing. I graduated from the School of Psychology at the University of Exeter with a PhD in Social Psychology and have held Lectureships and Senior Lectureships at the Universities of Bath, Abertay Dundee and Liverpool. Between 2008 and 2013 I was a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Sports Science Aarhus University in Demark and am currently a Visiting Professor at the Socio-Technical Centre until late 2015. I have also held Visiting Fellowships and Scholarships at the Australian National University, the University of Exeter and Flinders University.
My research work centres on crowd psychology, ‘riots’, football ‘hooliganism’ and public order policing and focuses theoretically on the role of intergroup and social identity processes in collective violence. I have a general interest in the contribution that Self Categorisation Theory can make toward our theoretical understanding of security issues. My work has achieved high-level policy impacts globally. In the last ten years my research has informed policy for the U.K. Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the College of Policing, the European Council, the European Union, the Portuguese, Swedish and Danish Police and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). My research forms the conceptual basis of public order police policy and training in the UK as it has done for over a decade in other areas of Europe. Whilst this impact is latterly focused on the management of collective conflict during protests my research has also underpinned the security policy for major international football Championships in Europe. In 2014 was awarded first prize in the Public Policy category of the Economic and Social Research Council’s ‘Celebrating Impact’ awards.
I have been involved in research and consultancy projects worth well in excess of £1.5 million, most recently on an ESRC Knowledge Exchange project in collaboration with West Yorkshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. I am on the Editorial Board of Criminology and Criminal Justice, which is the Journal of the British Society of Criminology. I am also an Editorial Consultant for the British Journal of Social Psychology. I have previously been a Consultant Editor for the European Journal of Social Psychology and a Guest Editor of Contemporary Social Science, which is the Journal of the Academy of the Social Sciences. I have an extensive media portfolio appearing with Andrew Marr on the BBC Documentary ‘Britain from Above’ discussing policing in football; with Michael Portillo in the BBC science programme ‘Horizon’ replicating Milgram’s infamous ‘Obedience Paradigm’; and with Tom Dyckhoff in the Channel 4 documentary series ‘The Secret Life of Buildings’ discussing stadium architecture. I regularly appear in press articles and on radio and television nationally and internationally speaking about my research and its relevance to contemporary social and political issues.
I completed my PhD on the Intergroup Dynamics of Crowd Psychology under the supervision of Professor Stephen Reicher (University of St Andrews). This research played an important role in developing the Elaborated Social Identity Model of crowd behaviour (ESIM), which is an application of Self Categorisation Theory to crowd action. The ESIM is now widely acknowledged as the leading social psychological theory of crowd psychology, particularly as this relates to our theoretical understanding ‘rioting’. My early post-doctorate career focused on understanding the crowd dynamics of football ‘hooliganism’ particularly the ‘rioting’ involving English fans travelling into Continental Europe. In the past decade my career focus has been on extending these important theoretical developments toward an applied and impact agenda, primarily through integrating ESIM analyses of rioting into professional policy and practice among police forces globally. More recently, I have moved away from the increasingly narrow confines of Psychology toward the interdisciplinary environment of Criminology where I have been focused upon developing research within the broad agenda of security and justice. I have published over 50 articles in leading interdisciplinary peer reviewed journals and co-authored and edited three books: ‘Football Hooliganism, Policing and the War on the ‘English Disease’’ co-authored with Dr Geoff Pearson (University of Liverpool); ‘Mad Mobs and Englishmen: Myths and Realities of the 2011 riots’ co-authored with Professor Steve Reicher; ‘The Crowd in the 21st Century’ co-edited with Dr John Drury (University of Sussex).
Recent Research Projects
- N8 Policing Research Partnership. Co-investigator on a £50,000.00 project funded by the College of Policing Innovation Fund within which I was the project co-lead on Public Order Policing.
- ESRC funded Knowledge Exchange Partnership with the OPCC West Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police. I am the project lead for the Public Order strand which involves a series of field based observations, training and dissemination event.
I am currently programme manager for the MA Security and Justice and module manager for its core module LAW5300M ‘Security and Justice’. Beyond this I have wide-ranging experience in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and supervision. I also have extensive experience of developing and delivering training courses for police commanders involved in policing crowd events. I teach regularly and have lectured at Police Academies across the globe.
I undertake a range of consultancy work. Recent projects include acting as the Educational Director of the Pan European Football Policing Project between 2010 and 2012. In 2014 I was a peer reviewer to ACC Geoff Dodd (WYP) who was the Gold Commander of Operation Woolfox surrounding the EDL demonstration in Batley. I provided the academic scrutiny review for the ACPO working paper on policing linked to on-shore oil and gas operations. I also provided academic scrutiny for the report ‘Making and Breaking Barriers: Assessing the value of mounted police units in the UK’ part funded by the ACPO Mounted Working Group.
I am able to supervise PhDs and MA (Research) in the following general areas:
- Crowds, riots and collective conflict.
- Policing: particularly in the area of ‘public order’.
- Hooliganism and football related ‘disorder’.
- Procedural justice, legitimacy and social identity.
Crowd psychology and the policing of football crowds in England and Wales. Dr James Hoggett, University of the West of England. ESRC funded collaborative studentship with the United Kingdom Football Policing Unit.
- The relationship between perceived police legitimacy and positive, self-regulatory behaviours in crowds. Mathew Radburn. University of Leeds funded Scholarship.
- Liaison Based Public Order Policing and Processes Governing the Reduction of Conflict During Crowd Events. Ashley Kilgallon. ESRC funded collaborative studentship with the Metropolitan Police Service.
- A comparative analysis of the policing and prevention of radicalization and violent extremism in the UK and Denmark. TBC. ESRC funded collaborative studentship with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire and East Jutland Police.
Current MA (Research)
- Toward a more Effective assessment of threat and risk in public order policing. PC Ian Leach, Durham Constabulary.
Mad Mobs and Englishmen: Myths and Realties of the 2011 'Riots' (London: Constable and Robinson, 2011),
Football Hooliganism, Policing and the War on the English Disease (London: Pennant Books, 2007),
‘Crowdedness Mediates the Effect of Social Identification on Positive Emotion in a Crowd: A Survey of Two Crowd Events’, PloS one, 8.11 (2013),
Exposure to crowding is said to be aversive, yet people also seek out and enjoy crowded situations. We surveyed participants at two crowd events to test the prediction of self-categorization theory that variable emotional responses to crowding are a function of social identification with the crowd. In data collected from participants who attended a crowded outdoor music event (n = 48), identification with the crowd predicted feeling less crowded; and there was an indirect effect of identification with the crowd on positive emotion through feeling less crowded. Identification with the crowd also moderated the relation between feeling less crowded and positive emotion. In data collected at a demonstration march (n = 112), identification with the crowd predicted central (most dense) location in the crowd; and there was an indirect effect of identification with the crowd on positive emotion through central location in the crowd. Positive emotion in the crowd also increased over the duration of the crowd event. These findings are in line with the predictions of self-categorization theory. They are inconsistent with approaches that suggest that crowding is inherently aversive; and they cannot easily be explained through the concept of ‘personal space’.
‘Psychological disaster myths in the perception and management of mass emergencies’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 2259-2270,
Disaster myths are said to be widespread and consequential. However, there has been little research on whether those involved in public safety and emergency response believe them. A survey examined how far police officers, civilian safety professionals, sports event stewards and comparison samples from the public believe the myths “mass panic,” “civil disorder,” and “helplessness.” Respondents endorsed the first two myths. However, they rejected the myth of helplessness and endorsed the view that emergency crowds display resilience. Despite these contradictions in stated beliefs, there was also evidence of ideological coherence: each model of mass emergency behavior (maladaptive vs. resilient) was linked to a model of crowd management (coercive and paternalistic vs. mass-democratic). The practical implications of these findings are discussed.
‘Dialogue Police, Decision Making, and the Management of Public Order During Protest Crowd Events’, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 2012,
Following the major riots within England in August 2011, the efficacy of public order police decision making was brought into a sharp focus. None the less, the reform of this mode of policing within the UK was already underway with a strong emphasis upon policing through consent and the need to facilitate peaceful protest through dialogue and communication. This paper reports upon a critical ‘test case’ for this ‘new approach’ by analysing the policing of a series of protests against Government policy across 3 days that surrounded a Government party conference in Sheffield, a large city in the north of England. This paper draws out lessons to be learned from what proved to be a highly successful dialogue-based approach to policing protests. We contend that dialogue and liaison were effective because they allowed for an ongoing dynamic risk assessment that improved command-level decision making and enhanced police proportionality. The subsequent impact upon crowd dynamics allowed for an improved capacity for proactive public order management, encouraged ‘self-regulation’ in the crowd, and avoided the unnecessary police use of force at moments of tension. The implications of the analysis for theory and practice are discussed.
‘Post G20: The Challenge of Change, Implementing Evidence-based Public Order Policing’, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 9.2 (2012), 174-183,
‘Keeping the Peace' Social Identity, Procedural Justice and the Policing of Football Crowds’, BRITISH JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY, 52.2 (2012), 381-399,
‘Contextualising the crowd in contemporary social science’, Contemporary Social Science, 6.3 (2011), 275-288,
This paper situates contemporary social scientific studies of crowd events and crowd behaviour in their historical and ideological context. The original 'crowd science' developed from definitions of 'social problems' that emerged in the late nineteenth century - in particular the concerns among the French establishment about the threat of the 'mass' to 'civilization'. This, and the surrounding intellectual context, encouraged the development of theoretical models of the crowd characterized by forms of reductionism and irrationalism. Early accounts of 'mass panic' similarly suggested that collective behaviour was irrational because it was governed by primitive bio-psychological processes. After describing these early approaches to the crowd, the paper outlines how changes in late twentieth society, whereby those writing about the crowd were no longer necessarily 'outside' crowd events, have coincided with the development of accounts of the crowd which draw upon contemporary social scientific concepts (such as social norms, social identities, and cognition) and which assume that crowds are not alien to meaningful social and political participation, but integral to it. © 2011 Academy of Social Sciences.
‘Crowd psychology and public order management’, PSYCHOLOGIST, 24.10 (2011), 718-719,
‘The role of crowd theory in determining the use of force in public order policing’, POLICING & SOCIETY, 20.2 (2010), 223-236,
‘Tackling football hooliganism - A quantitative study of public order, policing and crowd psychology’, PSYCHOLOGY PUBLIC POLICY AND LAW, 14.2 (2008), 115-141,
‘Policing football crowds in England and Wales: a model of 'good practice'?’, POLICING & SOCIETY, 18.3 (2008), 258-281,
‘From prejudice to collective action’, in Beyond Prejudice: Extending the Social Psychology of Conflict, Inequality and Social Change, ed. by Dixon J and Levine M ([n.pub.], 2012),
This edited collection of essays re-evaluates the concept of prejudice, in an attempt to move beyond conventional approaches to the subject.
‘Crowd dynamics and public order policing’, in Preventing Crowd Violence, ed. by Madensen TD and Knutsson J (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011),