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RAN Study visit on Dealing with disruptive and escalating violent ‘borderline’ protest in the realm of the police P/CVE role, 28 September 2023


Publication date
28 February 2024
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
RAN Publications Topic
  • Community policing
  • Judiciary and law enforcement


During this digital study visit, a group of police experts and officers conducted a small tour with “stopovers” in four European and one Canadian hotspot for disruptive and escalating violent protest. The aim was to learn about the different developments and trends in borderline protest, and the police responses – before, during and after, in the context of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE).

The key questions discussed were: what makes specific forms of protests concerning considering potential radicalisation and escalation into violence and extremism; what factors can contribute or prevent such escalation; and, what should be the police response?

Several different forms of protests and tactics have been explored, including:

  • environmental protests, blockades, property damage and critical infrastructure targeting
  • COVID-19-related protests
  • violent riots and far-left protests (e.g. at G20 summits)

What makes these protests and movements ‘borderline’ is the disruptive tactics employed, such as disruption of the economy and exhaustion of law enforcement resources, use of children in demonstrations, the infiltration of antagonists among demonstrators, as well as the rapid transformation of normal citizens into violent protesters. Key findings of the study visit are:

  • Police forces across Europe and in North America are challenged with new protest movements and trends that do not happen in isolation but are part of national and global campaigns. These campaigns share tactics across borders; thus, more cross-border exchange and mutual learning is needed among law enforcement.
  • Police forces are concerned with the potential for escalation and growing violence, especially on climate demonstrations.
  • A differentiated approaches are needed to respond to different groups/actors in demonstrations, as well as for different types of protests to avoid further escalation and radicalisation, including regarding tactics applied by police (hard vs. soft security measures). ‘Dialogue police’ can greatly contribute to preventing escalation.
  • The use of administrative measures to disrupt some protest movements’ tactics, such as civil injunctions, as well as amplifying credible voices from community and businesses have also been mentioned as effective approaches.
  • Change the way police training is approached, such as for riot management, is necessary to ensure better understanding of these new risks and integration of dialogue aspects.
RAN Study visit on borderline protest cover


28 FEBRUARY 2024
Dealing with disruptive and escalating violent ‘borderline’ protest in the realm of the police P/CVE role