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Is Kettling a suitable method in crowd control?

Kettling is one of the most strategic though controversial police tactics intended for crowd control and management, which uses non-lethal weapons. During kettling, the police officers surround a group of protesters in a predetermined location and make a decision on how they would leave (CBC News, 2012, Para 2). Kettling has been successful on many occasions in containing protestors. A good example is the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. Ontario and the city police saw more than 400 people held at Queen Street and Spadina Avenue. In many occasions, kettling remains the only tactic to crowd control because it does not rely on lethal weapons.

However, it is important to ensure that people’s rights are not infringed, for instance, journalists and bystanders who do not form part of the protests (CBC News, 2012, Para 4). It is useful in isolating and containing large crowds in volatile and dangerous conditions most of the large crowds are associated with rioters and a good example is the riots attributed to labour problems in the United States that led to considerable bloodshed. Many people were killed during the 1877 great railway strike and this is enough reason to believe that kettling can be successful in containing riots hence prevent bloodshed and loss of property (Canvas, 2011, Para 7).

Despite the fact that it disappoints some members of the public, it is the only effective tactic the police can use to contain large crowds that might result in violence. Kettling relies heavily on the power of detention in order to prevent a breach of peace in common law. It is within their powers to undertake any reasonable action to stop any breach of peace. The police are mandated to take preventive measures more prominent during large crowds of protests which might end up in violence, the death of people, and loss of property. However, kettling in many occasions incites violence among the protesters and also endanger the lives of bystanders especially teenagers contained within the crowd. It, therefore, needs to be modified to leave a point of exit after the crowd has been boxed in (Kenny, 2001, p.27).


Canvas, 2011, Is Police Kettling a Valid Method of Crowd Control, Available at: http://canvas.union.shef.ac.uk/wordpress/?p=403 [Accessed 19 January 2017].

CBC News, 2012, Crowd Control: What is Kettling, Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/crowd-control-what-is-kettling-1.1133313 [Accessed 19 January 2017].

Kenny, J, 2001, Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons, Available at: http://www.popcenter.org/problems/spectator_violence/PDFs/HEAP.pdf [Accessed 19 January 2017].


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