Violence Type/Intensity

The map can be customised according to the ‘level’ of violence, ranging from Riots (red), to Disturbances (yellow), to Incidents (green), to individual acts of violence (blue).

These categorisations are approximate only:

For example, an incident may be of such intensity and destructiveness that it merited categorisation as ‘riot’ despite the Riot Act not being read.  A smaller and less destructive event may have been deemed ‘disturbance’, despite the Riot Act being read.

Moreover, the newspaper reporting on which these judgements are based is itself value-laden, dependent on partisan bias, time-period, and other factors:

For example, a Conservative newspaper may deem an event a riot if begun by Radicals, whereas a Radical newspaper may describe the same event as a largely peaceful demonstration. A newspaper in the 1880s may describe a violent event using more ‘extreme’ language than it would have in the 1830s, as mass violence gradually became less socially acceptable and/or commonplace.

Our Type/Intensity definitions are based partially on those developed by Wasserman and Jaggard, with a revised definition of electoral violence, and the addition of ‘Individual’ to roughly distinguish collective from non-collective violence.


A serious and sustained outbreak of collective violence, involving the implicit or explicit use of force, intimidation or coercion, and which resulted in physical damage to persons or property – or the immediate fear that such would occur. Riots commonly evoked a magisterial response, such as the reading of the Riot Act proclamation and/or the forcible restoration of the peace by police officers or the military.


A less serious breach of the peace than a riot, and involved episodic outbursts of crowd violence rather than the type of sustained disorder characteristic of a riot. A disturbance generated a degree of public alarm and usually elicited some measure of official response.


A noisy or demonstrative action by a crowd of people that is caused by, interferes with, or disrupts, the proceedings of an election campaign. An incident was a relatively short-lived event that involved little overt violence and invoked a limited or no official response.


An action or set of actions involving fewer than 3-4 people, there being no crowd presence or active involvement. Occurrences of individual violence tend to be brief, and often had no effect on the proceedings of an election campaign, but were nevertheless caused by the occurrence of an election.