I attempted to post this directly as reply, but appear to be having some technical issues…

The initial post is by Professor Chris Kemp https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cultural-differences-health-safety-crowd-management-guidance-kemp

And my reply

Hello Chris

It just so happens, I am doing some independent research on this matter, so have a few ideas of some of the issues and some possible ways to improve matters.

One of the fundamental difficulties the industry faces is a lack of knowledge and understanding of crowd psychology. If you look to the UK Police (who you might think would be at the fore-front of understanding crowds), little changed from Hillsborough, to kettleing at the G20 riots and the death of Ian Tomlinson. While we should be grateful for Le Bon for ‘founding’ crowd psychology, it is shameful that many people still believe his work is credible – namely that crowds are irrational and dangerous.

The second problem is the lack of adequate training for those involved at events. This is not just about the security staff but also the crowd. Developments in crowd psychology indicate that Social Identity Theory, and the Elaborate Social Identity Model, is the most effective tool at explaining behaviour. There are two components that must be met, to ensure that behaviours are effectively managed, 1 – that the requests are seen as legitimate & 2 – the request come from someone within your ‘own social group’, as this increases perceptions about their legitimacy.

Addressing the issue of knowledge, while there is genuinely nothing out there to tell you about crowd psychology at events, and their relationship to security (until i eventually publish my research, or someone else does) there is an abundance on Police management and also of note, crowd behaviour at emergencies. The inherent value of looking at ’emergency incident’ crowds is the emergent self-regulation and support for those in need of help, created by the induced feeling of ‘all being in it together’ aka ‘shared social identity’. As events tend to bring people of a ‘shared social identity’ together, this needs to be tailored for each event to enhance that self-regulating nature.

Leading nicely onto training. The best people to tell you how they expect to behave are the people coming to your event. One development project of my research is to encourage people attending an event to put up a short video, 10 seconds max, showing a favourite activity/behaviour (obviously using #CrowdLeader #EventName). You will then have as good a guide as possible to how the crowd will behave, assuming that it is sufficiently populated. The benefits to this would be, continually updated training material for security, giving them an accurate idea of what to expect so they know (after event specific training) what to stop and how to stop it, but more importantly what to promote (but that is another issue altogether). As well as giving security a good idea of what to expect, it gives those attending a clear idea, so they will be in no doubt what to expect when they get there. This further enhances the shared identity of the event, increasing the level of self regulation, reducing the burden on security staff.

Leading back to the beginning and Le Bon. The problem is cultural change in the academic ‘understanding’ of crowd psychology and its influence upon crowd management. The ‘evidence’ is slowing being gathered, then we can educate people about the problems with the old and the value of the new, then gradually behaviours will change and we can really show the value of the new…

Oh yes, then after everyone in the industry has changed, then you have to convince government and legislate, so quite simple really….

You’ve got to love being at the beginning of the curve though.

PS in theory I can find quality references (eg journals) for everything, so if anyone wants any, please let me know.

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