Post by Matthew Davies, DPhil Candidate
Several members from the Centre for Criminology (Chris Giacomantonio, Ben Bradford, Matthew Davies, Alice Reid, Patricia Taflan and Sunny Dhillon) recently undertook fieldwork at Glastonbury Festival as part of a project examining mounted policing. The project, Making and Breaking Barriers, is an ACPO and ESRC funded piece of research led by the University of Oxford and Rand Europe, aimed at systematically exploring the role of mounted policing in the UK - the first of its kind to do so. One of the central research questions asks how the public experience mounted police relative to other forms of policing. To address this, the research team has conducted extensive fieldwork examining police work (mounted and foot patrols) across a number of contexts, ranging from crowd control (including football matches, political protests and cultural events), neighbourhood patrols and ceremonial events.
Following discussions from police partners, it became clear that the team needed to examine mounted police deployments in large, non-sporting and predominantly peaceful events. Glastonbury Festival was an ideal site to observe policing in such a context given the scale of the event and its reputation. At the festival, the research team conducted systematic observations of all mounted patrols and a number of foot patrols throughout the duration of the festival, which provided both quantitative and qualitative indicators of the volume and kinds of interactions each form of policing generate in this setting.
Preliminary findings from earlier stages of the research suggest that the presence of mounted police increases the number of interactions between the police and the public and is also positively associated with greater visibility and public trust and confidence in the police. Results from the observations at Glastonbury - which marked the final piece of fieldwork for the project - are currently being analysed and will be available in the final report, which is expected to be published in November 2014.