A safer way to defuse trouble

College courses for door supervisors are transforming the way they deal with trouble outbreaks, lecturers claim.

Peter Hardy, course manager at Newcastle college, said: "We look at ways in which violence can be stopped using good sense, rather than meeting violence with violence.

"We teach ways of defusing conflict by maintaining space, keeping eye contact, and by taking an open palm stance."

"They learn that people need to be given respect and that the attitude they show is demonstrated in the attitude that comes back."

"There are lots of videos showing good and bad practice so the learners can understand the kind of triggers and inhibitors that spark problems, such as standing in long queues or embarrassing someone in front of their girlfriend."

He said the acronym SAFER sums up the best way to approach conflict situations. It stands for Step back, Assess the threat, Find help, Evaluate options, and Respond.

"People have told us it has changed the way they deal with situations.

Rather than rushing in they now adopt a more considered approach."

Legal issues are covered under roles and responsibilities. Mr Hardy added:

"They have to know the difference between common assault, assault causing actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm.

"They are also instructed on the use of reasonable and necessary force, and the fact that it is only a judge who decides what is reasonable. They are informed about what constitutes an offensive weapon and the appropriate way to search people.

"They also learn the five things they need to do to arrest someone: they must state who they are, that the person is under arrest, what they are under arrest for, the grounds for the arrest, and that police are being called."

"They have the same powers of arrest as any civilian, only they are more likely to use those powers than most people."

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