A CCTV-based analysis of target selection by guardians intervening in interpersonal conflicts

Peter Ejbye-Ernst, Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard, Wim Bernasco*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Guardians are a potential resource of conflict de-escalation but we still know little about their actual behaviour. In this article we investigate whom among the antagonists a guardian selects as a target when they intervene in an interpersonal conflict. We investigate this using CCTV footage from Amsterdam (the Netherlands) of 46 interpersonal conflicts in public spaces involving 641 interventions by 176 individuals. We find that guardians are more likely to target antagonists: (1) who have performed the most aggressive behaviours, (2) who are not simultaneously targeted by other guardians, (3) who are from their own social group, (4) who are men. The analysis shows that the behaviour of intervening guardians is shaped by multiple aspects of the complex and often ambiguous conflict situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1260-1279
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) [015.012.043/1213].

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • guardianship
  • interpersonal conflicts
  • systematic video analysis
  • Third-party intervention
  • violence


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