Public order policing review

Part of: Large-scale policing Policing on the beat

August 2011 saw a new departure in major public disturbances in England: widespread, fast-moving and opportunistic riots and criminal attacks on property, loosely organised using social media, and sometimes involving alliances between normally rival gangs.

After a long period of relative peace, this presented an exceptional challenge for conventional police training, tactics and organisational capacity, which had been developed largely to deal with set-piece, single site confrontations between police and protestors.

Following the riots, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, wrote to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, stating her desire to ensure “the public order policing response is as effective as it can be.” She also requested that:

“you conduct further work to support clearer guidance to forces on the size of deployments, the need for mutual aid, pre-emptive action, public order tactics, the number of officers (including commanders) trained in public order policing and an appropriate arrests policy.”

In the report ‘The rules of engagement: A review of the August 2011 disorders’, published on 20 December 2011, HMIC found police need to be better prepared, trained and ready to protect the public if they are to improve upon their response to public disorder.

Read The rules of engagement: A review of the August 2011 disorders

Read the press release

To see the research findings that contributed to our report please visit our data section.

You can see the Review’s terms of reference here.

Read the February 2011 Policing Public Order report

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.