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Willem de Lint and Adam Pocrnic

Public order policing may be seen as the use of police authority and capacity to restore the balance between different interests in a crowd gathering. Police organizations that perform public order policing functions mostly work on the basis of a living law practice, in which they build knowledge and expertise in an adaptive environment. Across jurisdictions, common practices, tactics, and legal instruments have been developed, but significant differences and inconsistencies remain. As a practice, the authors argue, public order policing is often divided between legal authorities and mandates, and also between open and closed, preventative and deterrent, trust-building and risk-averse approaches. The living law of public order reflects a compromise between evolving inter/transnational standards and best practices on the one hand, and interests and demands of active, localized demand constituencies on the other. Providing a synopsis of knowledge of public order policing and building on a series of case studies, the authors conclude inter alia that transnational legal norms do not produce a universal model of public order policing.