Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by: Association of Chief Police Officers

(Now the National Police Chiefs Council)


The aim of these resources is to explore significant incidents of public disorder in late 20th century Britain through examining archive records of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The archives of ACPO are held at the Hull History Centre and all images and documents within this resource are taken from their collection. The collection of archives is mainly made up of notes from meetings, letters, newspaper cuttings and planning documents.

Some of the more interesting material in the collection relates to public disorder; riots, protests and dealing with public events which could sometimes lead to public disorder like football matches and industrial disputes. These resources discuss the ACPO point of view on these issues.


  • KS3 History: Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day,  A study of an aspect of social history (crime and punishment)
  • KS4 History: Power and the people
  • KS3 PSHE: Law and order
  • KS3 Citizenship: The nature of rules and laws and the justice system, including the role of the police

  • To critically examine and discuss historical resources
  • To research historical events independently and more deeply
  • To draw conclusions and share opinions

The resources are divided into specific themes (see navigation links). 

Activity Ideas

Oral History Event
Hold an oral history event. Ask the local police force if a representative can come into school and you could record the views of family and friends who have taken part in protests or been caught up in trouble at sporting grounds. 
Top Tips:
  • Use open ended questions (that can’t just be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’)
  • Allow people to speak freely, but try to steer them back on to the topic with follow-up questions
  • If people are shy, they may wish to talk in a group rather than on their own
  • Some people may find it upsetting to talk about things that have happened in the past. Have glasses of water and tissues on hand and give people plenty of time to recover before asking another question
  • Make sure you have written permission for filming or audio recordings
  • Have someone making notes and another person asking questions during the interviews. It will make it easier to find the most interesting things people have said if you have a rough idea how far into the recording they said it. 
Miners’ Strike | Mapping and Planning
  • Using one of the    police incident reports from the miners' strike,  find and plot each location on a map of the area. Number the locations in order and connect them to the next one with a line - can you predict where the protesters might picket next? Can you spot any other mines on the map?

Descriptive Words and Creative Writing
  • Look at the  police incident reports . Police were meant to only use the words peaceful, hostile or violent to describe protesters moods, but they actually used various other descriptions. Look through the list and discuss whether or not these are objective words to use as descriptions, why?
  • Write a poem from the point of view of a Miner or Policeman involved in the strike. Start by making a list of adjectives to describe their feelings to help develop your ideas.

Football Hooliganism | World Cup 1966
  • The Football Association (FA) and the police were worried about pitch invasions at the 1966 World Cup. The two organisations met in 1965 to discuss ways to prevent this happening and encourage good behaviour by the crowds. Before looking at the   list drawn up at the meeting , ask the students what they think should be  on the list. 
- Compare with the document with the official list. 
- Will these suggestions work?
- Are they too strict or not strict enough?

Policing Football Hooliganism
  • Football hooliganism reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s. Take a look at the  list of hooliganism offences   in the ACPO report. Write each on a separate piece of paper and ask pupils to work in groups to place these in order of seriousness, with the crime they think is the most serious and should receive the harshest penalty at the top, and put the least serious at the bottom. 
- What do they think the consequences of these crimes should be? 
  • How would you go about collecting evidence  of these types of crimes or incidents  at a football match or other sporting event? What extra difficulty would you have because of the situation?
  • In the  1976 Home Office meeting minutes , it mentions the importance of ground safety. What measures do they suggest? Think about your own visits to sporting arenas or other places where large amounts of people gather, such as music concerts. 

- What additional safety measures could be put in place and should be considered by clubs building new football stadiums? 
- Design a stadium which encourages people to behave in a sociable and peaceful way. Look at Chelsea’s plans for the new Stamford Bridge for inspiration  (see 'Related Links' at the bottom of the page).

Research Project

As a group, plan a research project to find out what people experience at football matches. 

  • Create and send out a questionnaire to get some first ideas about people’s experiences. Use an excel spreadsheet to record their answers to questions so you can see if there are any trends in what people say.
  • Invite people to an oral history day  (see public order/disorder activities above). You might want to invite police, local football fan groups and perhaps local care homes who might have residents who remember attending football matches over a long span of time (they might be able to point to any differences)
  • Research other more positive aspects of the football fan experience online and in books, magazines and papers.
  • Create a report of your findings. Can you find out whether violence at football matches has got better over time? 


Public Order/Disorder

Key words: pleasant, boisterous, quiet, abusive, restless, belligerent, moody, persuasive, good, reasonably amicable, volatile, noisy friendly, militant.


Look at the Police tactics sketches. How would these tactics have made the protesters feel? Do you think they would work? The Police have sometimes been criticised for being ‘heavy-handed’ with protesters. Can you come up with a list of alternative tactics for dispersing crowds without the use of riot equipment?  


Why do people go to watch the football? How do people feel when they go to a football match? What emotions do they experience? What factors affect their experiences?


Drama Performance

Using the 1970s psychologist’s view of the different behaviour  shown by crowds, transform this document into a short play, which shows the changes in behaviour. Create teams of writers, stage crew, directors/producers and actors depending on your skills and abilities.


Discussion Ideas


Public Order/Disorder

  • What is the difference between a protest and public disorder? 
  • Look at the illustrations created to show police tactics in the case of riots. What is noticeable about the behaviour and appearance of the protesters? What does that tell you about the expectations of the police officers?
  • In the illustration ‘frontal advance’ what do you notice about the formation of the shields? 
  • Police sometimes used police dogs or police mounted on horseback in these situations? What difference do you think this made?

Miner’s Strike

  • Why is it surprising that encounters between police and protesters should be called ‘battles’? Look at all the sources and discuss what features about them suggest a ‘battle’.  
  • Take a look at the photograph from the protest and compare it to the illustrations of the police plans in the previous section. 
  • How similar were the actual protests to the police planning illustrations?
  • Take a look at the police incident reports
  • What do you notice about protests where there were a high number of protesters?
  • Why do you think the police were recording the moods of protesters?
  • Is there any relationship between the number of police in attendance and the mood of the protesters?


Football Hooliganism

  •  What is the difference between a football fan and a hooligan?
  •  Look at the letter relating to the bus load of people pretending to be Manchester United Fans who were found to have lots of hidden weapons (U DPO 10 563).
  • What are their reasons for going to the game?  
  • How can you stop people like this attending games?
  • Why did they disguise themselves? What does that tell you about wider issues in society?
  • How would it have felt to be the coach driver?
  • Does that sort of thing happen now?
  • Look at the letter from Merseyside police about sprinkler dyes and the report from the Home Office meeting from 1976. What do you think the solution is? How can fans be kept safe at games?

Current Events

Think about more recent events of public disorder (such as the 2011 Riots in London and other English towns and cities). What originally happened to spark the riots? What was the motivation of the rioters? Where do you draw the line between protest and public disorder?