27 February 2019

Consultation opened on guidelines for conflict management

Officers and staff are being asked to give their feedback on new evidence-based guidelines for conflict management using de-escalation, communication and negotiation.

The guidelines are also the first stage in developing a National Policing Curriculum for personal safety training (PST). Ensuring PST is delivered consistently and meets frontline needs addresses recommendations from 2017 research on officer and staff victims of assault.

The public routinely see or hear about the acts of bravery that officers display when running towards danger. However, what goes unseen is the dynamic risk assessment every officer does when confronted by violent or aggressive situations.

There are options to consider and implement in response to most conflict situations, from tactical communication through to the necessary use of reasonable force.  In some other situations, the risk posed to the public and officers is so high that the immediate use of force is essential.

The guidelines being published for consultation today (27 February 2019) have been produced to ensure chiefs train officers and staff so they can use de-escalation, communication and negotiation tactics confidently, when appropriate and before force becomes necessary.

They are not designed to replace the use of reasonable force, which will always be required in certain circumstances.

The guidelines also focus on the organisational and supervisory support that chiefs need to provide, in recognition of the difficulties officers and staff face, and the personal responsibility they carry.

Frontline officers and subject matter experts chaired by a chief officer, all independent of the College of Policing, made up the committee that developed the four practitioner evidenced guidelines.

Whilst aimed at chief officers and learning & development teams, the guidelines will affect the personal safety training for all officers and staff, so everyone should have the opportunity to influence the way this training is developed by responding to the consultation on the College of Policing website.

Assistant Chief Constable David Hardcastle, the chair of the guideline committee, said:

"These new guidelines capture what we believe are some of the most effective techniques to diffuse or 'calm down' conflict situations, but now we need your views.

"Sometimes the use of reasonable force can't be avoided. By ensuring personal safety training includes these additional techniques, officers and staff will have the best information to help judge whether they need to go 'hands on'.

"Taking the time to give your feedback is crucial. It will further improve the evidence-base for these guidelines, and help shape your personal safety training in the future."

Richard Bennett, College of Policing lead for uniformed policing, said:

"These guidelines are the first stage of developing a new Police National Curriculum for personal safety training. We started with this topic as it was an obvious gap and was recommended in research on officer and staff victims of assault. We now need feedback on which areas we should prioritise next as part of that development.

"It is also important to understand through the feedback we get how these guidelines could be incorporated into force training packages, to help determine how and when de-escalation skills could be taught.

"As part of the consultation there is still time for officers and staff to share any good practice of what they find works in this area, and I would encourage all officers and staff to include this in their feedback."

Police Federation of England and Wales National Chair John Apter, said:

"Officer safety training must be fit for purpose and be based on their needs rather than what a text book tells them they must learn. It must cover all aspects of safety training from de-escalation, beat craft skills to an officer fighting for their life. Officer safety training is essential and it must be relevant. This is a way for officers to shape what that training looks like, to have their say so I urge officers to take part in this consultation."

The consultation on the guidelines is running from 27 February 2019 to 27 March 2019.

A copy of the complete guidelines and a consultation feedback form are available to download here.


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