Snatch squad

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The term "snatch squad" refers to two tactics used by police in riot control and crowd control.

In riot control[edit]

The snatch squad in riot control involves several police officers, usually wearing protective riot gear, rushing forwards—occasionally in a flying wedge formation—to break through the front of a crowd, with the objective of snatching one or more individuals from a riot that are attempting to control the demonstration at which they are present. The target may be a leader or a speaker, or someone who seems to be leading the crowd.

In one British form of the tactic, three or four officers rush at a group of violent or disorderly people, with two of the officers carrying batons and the others a shield. The officer with the shield rushes the most violent in the group and forces the subject between the shield and a fixed object, while the other officers either arrest the others or escort them out of the crowds.

Plainclothes snatch squads[edit]

A snatch squad may also refer to plainclothes police officers apprehending individuals, often in a looting situation. Often the plainclothes police officers will mingle with crowds intent on causing trouble and appear to be a bystander. The undercover officers can arrest any individual attempting to break or loot a store, often in an isolated scenario with few crowds as not to provoke retribution against the officers.

This tactic was used during the rioting in England in late summer 2011, most notably by Greater Manchester Police who deployed it in Manchester city centre on 9 August 2011.[1]

Snatch squads may appear indistinguishable from a kidnapping.[citation needed] Activist Jaggi Singh was detained in this manner during protests at the 1997 APEC Summit in Vancouver. Bystanders tried to intervene to protect Singh, assuming the snatch was unlawful.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "Fightback! London's looters stay home as 16,000 police flood the streets ready to use plastic bullets". Daily Mail. 10 August 2011. Last night in Manchester the robust new approach of police was seen as plain-clothed ‘snatch squads’ targeted the ringleaders and dragged looters from shops to make arrests.