Negotiation and directives

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This approach involves a range of friendly and not-so-friendly meetings before and during a protest. The goal of police in these negotiations/directions is usually to control, change, or affect the nature and outcome of the action.

This article by David Baker on 1991 APM dispute in Burnie is an interesting analysis of this form of policing. 

With this tactic, police may politely request or direct that activists stick to the footpath, move from an area, or move a stall. Sometimes these requests/ directives might be made with the implied threat of arrest if the request/directive is not obeyed.


The threat of arrest might be followed through or might simply be a bluff. It is often difficult to know in advance. Ultimately police tactics will be influenced by a variety of factors ( see Why police choose certain approaches).

Directives are often aimed at police maintaining control over a protest action.
Police can approach individual activists and make requests or give directives. This often proves an effective way to control a protest because it isolates people, making then feel less confident, and dilutes the strength of collective organising.


Negotiating with police may be beneficial to your event goals – but it can carry risks. It is important for your group to decide on what is and isn’t negotiable. It is equally important to be alert to what requests the police do and don’t have the authority to enforce.

Understanding police techniques and learning to assert your rights when police ask you yo do something is a valuable skill. 

It can be valuable and useful to nominate someone from your group to be a police liaison. However police liaison can be very difficult and intimidating. See these sections for more information: Organising Legal Support and Facing Police at Protests

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