Sunday, 30 October 2011

we don't need no education!

I saw in the news recently that Charlie Gilmour (Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd's adopted son) lost his appeal against his 16 month jail sentence for violent disorder during the tuition fee protests last year-

In it Lord Justice Hughes who rejected the appeal said: "It is an unavoidable feature of mass disorder that each individual act, whatever might be its character taken on its own, inflames and encourages others to behave similarly, and that the harm done to the public stems from the combined effect of what is done en masse"

On what scientifc basis is this statement founded?!

It seems to me that it might be useful if the legal system paid a bit more attention to current evidence on crowd behaviour, as  m'learned friend is quite simply wrong in his above claim that individual acts will inevitably incite others during mass disorder. If that was the case, why don't people listen to someone standing up and telling everyone to stop rioting and go home?! In the specific case of Charlie Gilmour, I've come accross evidence that while he was doing some pretty dumb things on the day (I understand he claimed in mitigation that he was off his head on mind-altering substances), far from inciting the crowd to act the same way, it seems that others did not join in (there's no footage of anyone else swinging off the cenotaph!), and some people even intervened and told him to stop being an idiot. The whole idea of crowds as a gullible mass that are easily incited into doing crazy things is a load of rubbish & it winds me up that people are allowed to peddle this myth without being challenged. Over 30 years' worth of research by crowd psychologists in the UK has found that by far the best way to incite crowds into mass disorder, is for the Police to use indiscriminate public order tactics (kettling, baton charges etc), and in the fall-out from the riots in August, the Police are now openly discussing using water cannon in mainland UK.

I am no apologist for the actions of Charlie Gilmour, but to say that he deserves 16 months in prison based on a fundamentally flawed assumption of how crowds behave seems a little disproportionate to say the least!

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