Can urban violence be understood?

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09 October 2014
Anders Green - Course Manager

Organised by the Swedish National Police Academy, the CEPOL course on urban violence (CEPOL 59/2014) took place in Stockholm on 24th September 2014. 32 participants from 22 Member States attended the course.

Superintendent Johnny Lindh and senior analyst Nina Axnäs from the Stockholm County Police opened the session with an exchange of experiences on the 2013 riots in Husby, a suburb situated in the vicinity of the academy’s premises, which hit the headlines worldwide. Participants were eager to discuss and debate the riots’ causes, consequences and repercussions, eagerness that positively impacted the rest of the course.

Various experts on urban violence reported their research outcomes.

Professor Nihad Bunar, Stockholm University, introduced his work on disadvantaged suburbs. He stressed that police must be aware of the risks of growing alienation and frustration in these suburbs. Hence, ‘display of force’ might be the wrong answer to handling and solving social unrest.

Professor Otto Adang’s work (Politieacademie, The Netherlands) presented similar results along with extensive research on police tactics. He emphasized that enhanced communication provides better results than rigid repressive measures.

ACC Terry Sweeney from Greater Manchester Police gave a lecture based on his experience as Gold Commander during the violent outbursts in Manchester in 2011. He pointed out the importance of tactical skills, but also of cooperation within local community. Drawing lessons from urban violence, suburban riots and demonstration will allow taking appropriate measure to manage hard core football hooligans.

Tertiary prevention was at the heart of Inspector Jesús Gomez Hernandez’s, Spanish National Police, presentation. He showed interesting videos following Spanish police forces performing public order duties.

René Karpantschof, PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Copenhagen, presented a non-traditional perspective drawn from his own experience as “professional squatter” and left-wing activist in the 80’s and early 90’s. He discussed his view of policing and focused on the developments in riot policing.

Participants’ group works were presented on the final day of the course. A passionate discussion followed the presentations and covered different topics handled during the course; from understanding inequalities in our societies, seeing risks for violent triggers to tactical measures. One of the key topics discussed during the course was the impact of social media, its risks and advantages.


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