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Under control Crowd control will be as much an issue outside World Cup stadia as inside them according to safety consultant Dr Jim Dickie.

Crowd management facilitates the movement and enjoyment of the spectator body, whereas crowd control is required when the anticipated course of events breaks down and a crowd or a small section of a crowd behaves in an unlawful or unsafe manner. While unexpected events can lead to the need for crowd control, deficient crowd management is the predominant cause of accidents.

A number of factors that apply to France 98 have in the past created conditions that transformed a managed crowd into a crowd that required control measures. These include sold-out events, unticketed events, free events and the use of excessive or unreasonable force by security personnel.

The Euro 96 football tournament in Britain was an example of a successful, well-planned multinational event. It was, however, a major European event as opposed to a major world event. A major world event creates the possible stage for a dissident group to publicise its cause. This can pose a considerable threat to the safety of all persons involved and adds a difficult dimension to security.

The planned introduction of large video screens outside stadia will encourage ticketless fans to travel to venues, attracting substantial but uncertain numbers of spectators. The location and arrangements for such 'satellite' venues will require equal if not more detailed planning than for the principal stadium in the city.

The principal stadium is ticketed whereas the satellite locations are not. Serious crowd disturbances have occurred at ticketless events that in comparison with football matches would normally be considered sedate.

An additional consideration is that the arrangements relating to ticket sales give rise to serious doubts that the use of tickets for France 98 will be effectively controlled, resulting in an unsegregated spectator body. Senior French officials have made contradictory statements with regard to this matter.

The culture of both the security forces and their reactions to crowd behaviour varies considerably between nations. This factor contributed to the level of violence witnessed at the Italy v England World Cup qualifying match in Rome last year. Little seems to have been learned from that incident.

In contrast to the UK, France has a different policing culture and the organisation of the police differs. French police are subject to a greater degree of political influence. This results in inconsistencies and ambiguities in the manner and level of enforcement.

In France there is a special police force, the Corps Republican de Securit, to deal with civil disturbances. This force has a long-established reputation for particularly forceful actions. These are likely to be only readily anticipated by individuals belonging to the society in which they are ever-present.

The same action against spectators from an alternative policing culture is frequently the catalyst that transforms a minor incident into a major one that will threaten large numbers of individuals.

Within the stadia themselves there are always hazards or design flaws which need to be managed no matter how modern the venue.

Provided there is a proper alertness, the problems that may arise are manageable. The matters that form the basis of operational planning for the provision of safety as events that attract large numbers of spectators are well understood. They include crowd demographics, seating arrangements, crowd movement patterns and crowd densities.

Dr Jim Dickie runs Crowdsafe, an independent crowd safety consultancy

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