Improvement in the understanding of decision-making under pressure and the development of curriculum content

This research will explore how being under threat by an armed suspect can impact a police officer's decision-making process.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Jody Faro
Police region
East Midlands
Collaboration and partnership

Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Armed Policing Units.

Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

The physiological arousal from stress has long been known to interfere with perception and memory at all levels and the body’s ability to deal with that threat (Siddle, August 2004) (Honig, 2008). A number of studies have shown that the ability to take in information on the periphery of a high threat situation is reduced when dealing with a subject armed with a knife or a gun (Janelle, 1999) (Williams V. &., 2007).

None of this information is available centrally other than the personal research completed by individual officers around the country (Williams M. , 2014). Nor are there any recommended strategies to train officers in dealing with these effects.

The aim of the research is to develop curriculum content and strategies to train authorised firearms officers (AFOs) in identifying and dealing with perceptual distortion during potentially life threatening incidents. This will be achieved by first understanding the theory of the cognitive psychology that underpins the bodies natural reactions to stress before developing experiments to test aspects pertinent to the training of AFOs.

Research methodology

The methodology is in three stages.

  1. First an understanding of the theory around these reactions
  2. Second an in-depth study of the current and past research that will be used to sign post towards developing a series of experiments using 120 AFO's from the Cambs Beds and Herts Armed Policing unit split into a control group and a test group.
  3. From these results the information and methods will be put together to present to the College of Policing.
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