Jac St John

Published: 25 September 2015

The Politics of Public Order: Policing & political protest in London during the 'Long 1970s'

University of St Andrews

The Politics of Public Order: Policing & political protest in London during the 'Long 1970s'

Academic History:

2015 - present PhD in Modern History, University of St Andrews

2013 - 2014 MSc in Contemporary History, University of Edinburgh

2009 - 2012 BA in History & Politics, Queen Mary, University of London


Primary: Professor Gerard De Groot

Secondary: Dr Riccardo Bavaj

Research Interests:

My doctoral research focuses on the politics of public order in London during the ‘Long 1970s’ (c.1968-1981). This historical conjuncture is often remembered as a time of crisis; demonstrations, protests, & strikes abound. As the post-war consensus unravelled & a paranoia of national decline became economically manifest, commentators began to decry the ‘ungovernability of Britain’. During this period, the capital played host to a series of causes célèbres of protest & demonstration, each episode acting as a ‘watershed’ in the development of Metropolitan Police’s public order strategy. My thesis explores how this strategy emerged in relation to a broader public debate around police powers & civil liberties, the key players of which included politicians, protesters, the press, & civil society groups.

My research primarily takes place in London, where my time is spent between the National Archives at Kew & the British Library. The Hull History Centre is another important depository for my research, as it contains both the Liberty Collection (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) & that of the Association of Chief Police Officers. My broader interests include the history of social movements, policing & counter-terrorism, oral & radical history, freedom of information, & the so-called 'crimes of the powerful'.

Previous Research Projects:

Since 2013, I have worked as a research assistant at the ESRC-funded Rendition Project, investigating British complicity in extraordinary rendition & torture. In 2015, I worked as a specialist researcher on a joint investigation between the Rendition Project & The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, analysing the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence into the CIA’s rendition, detention & interrogation programme. I am also a founding contributor to The Special Branch Files Project, which seeks to encourage a more informed public debate about the policing of political groups, in light of the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. In partnership with Dr Sam Raphael, I recently wrote a report on British arms trading to the Persian Gulf, published by the campaigning charity War on Want.


Arts & Humanities Research Council DTP Studentship (2015)

UK/EU Master’s Scholarship, University of Edinburgh (2013)

English Speaking Union SSE Scholarship, Avon Old Farms School, CT (2008)


Postgraduate research grant, University of St Andrews (2016)

Conference funding, University of Cambridge (2016)

Postgraduate research grant, University of Edinburgh (2014)

Westfield Trust Prise, Queen Mary, University of London (2012)

Contact Details:

Email: jsj2@st-andrews.ac.uk

First published: 25 September 2015