Category Archives: Personal Safety

What we can all learn from this incident on-board Norwegian Jade

handcuffs

Violence can erupt in any place, at any time. It can also involve anybody, innocent bystanders and passers-by included.

I say this having just returned from a break on-board a cruise liner, Norwegian Jade, where I travelled on a Caribbean cruise for my Christmas break.

However, while I may have been on holiday, there was one day in particular that I was required to use my conflict resolution and physical intervention skills.

You see, 9 days into my stay on the Norwegian cruise liner, trouble broke out between a 22-year-old guest and some of the ship’s staff in one of the bar areas.

It’s believed that the young man had been asked to leave the bar after getting into an altercation with another man and was escorted from the area by security staff. But he soon returned and continued to refuse to leave. This time around, when he was escorted out, he ended up assaulting one of the members of staff, which resulted in them suffering a broken nose, as well as several broken teeth.

I was in the area at the time, so saw and heard the build-up and, based on my extensive knowledge and experience, instinctively knew that the incident was going to result in violence.

It was essential that the violence that did erupt was effectively handled and contained, so I quickly arm locked and handcuffed the young man, using cuffs from the ship’s security guards. He was then taken to the ship’s jail for the remainder of the journey before being handed over to the police in Miami.

So, what does this incident teach us? As stated in my opening line, the risk of violence erupting is never far away, regardless of whether you’re at a concert, in a bar or on holiday, like I was. The smallest of things can trigger the fuse that sparks violence and can be as simple as somebody misinterpreting another person’s words. And unfortunately, once it’s been triggered, it’s been triggered – knowing how to rein it in and minimise the likelihood of widespread damage being caused to people and property is key.

If I hadn’t have predicted the violence that was on the horizon and stepped in to appropriately restrain the individual so he could be safely escorted away, it’s inevitable that more assaults would have taken place. What’s more, the safety of everybody on the ship would have been jeopardised, along with the ship’s reputation.

I’m glad I was on hand to do what I do best and I’m particularly glad that the incident didn’t escalate out of control. Who knows what would have happened otherwise…

Conflict resolution and physical intervention training isn’t just for security staff, it’s for everybody and can make all the difference between an incident being nipped in the bud with minimum violence to an incident spiralling out of control with multiple injuries. Both can happen instantly.

To find out more about how physical intervention or conflict resolution training could benefit you, contact me on  info@good-sense.co.uk or 0845 576 0035. For details of our current courses, visit http://www.good-sense.co.uk/training-courses/

 

Wishing you a safe 2018,

Darren Good

Founder, GoodSense Training

Lone Worker Danger

So how do you use the signs of danger and how to combat them if you are a lone worker? Well, a lot of the signs are very similar, they will still shows signs of flight or fight but they may be harder to spot when you are busy with other things and in an open environment. For this instance I will use the example of a health visitor arriving for an appointment although the same would apply to anyone in a public space.

The first thing you have to do is to research the area you are going to, how far do you have to park to get to the property you are visiting? Is it a known area for attacks, drugs or theft? How far away from a main road is it? Are there any bus stops or other public transport links nearby? The more informed you are of the area the easier it will be to formulate a defence plan and remember in these situations the easier it is to get away from danger the better.

Before you even get out of the car make sure you take a good look around at your surroundings, are there a lot of people about, is there a group of people who seem to be looking in your direction, are they there with purpose or are they just ‘hanging around?’ Is there a clear path from your car to the property? Can you identify the front door and see it? If you are meeting someone there and have their contact details it might be worth calling them to advise them where you are and how long you will be with them, if you do notice something unusual mention it to them for example ‘Hi I’ve just parked in the car park so I will be with you in a couple of minutes, can I just check your house number? There is a group of teenagers on the corner are you near there?’ This may prompt your visitor to advise you of the best thing to do i.e ‘Oh they are a nightmare, I’ll leave the door open for you so just come straight in.’

Once you have established the situation has the potential to be dangerous then make sure you make the journey from your car to the property as quickly as possible. You may have equipment you need in the back of the car, be vigilant (don’t look down) but don’t make eye contact with anyone. You will know their intention just as you would in the workplace, they will be walking in a straight line, they will be looking around for witnesses and your escape route in order to block you. They will be looking to enter into dialogue with you, they might ask you the time or for some change or even ask you where you are going, who you are etc. anything to distract you from what you are doing. This is where you need to be deceptive although your instinct may be to ignore them, this could anger them so answer politely but without giving them any opportunity to have completed their distraction. If they ask you for something say you don’t have it, inform them you are running late and you are expected somewhere. NEVER admit you don’t know the area, walk with purpose and keep walking, a moving target is always harder for them to attack. Make sure you are in a position to get to either – your destination, a main road or back into your car and make sure your hands are always above your belly button in order to defend yourself and NEVER put your hands in your pockets or your bag.

When you get to the property you are visiting make sure you tell the person you are meeting what has happened and call back to your office to tell them too. Depending on how you feel about the incident, and the seriousness of it you may feel it is appropriate to call the police. If you feel unsafe it may be necessary for a colleague to come out to meet you to make sure you get back to your car safely unless there is someone at the property who could help you with that.

Remember the 4 D’s –

  • Dialogue
  • Deception
  • Distraction
  • Destruction.

 

If you are a lone worker your employers should have a process for you if you are in a dangerous situation. Make sure you are aware of it and know the safe words that you need to make your colleagues aware of the situation.

Combating Workplace Danger

So my last post was to give you an idea of what signs are apparent when someone enters your workplace in order to cause harm. This post is about what you can do to make sure you are safe in this situation, for consistency I will be using the example of a reception again.

Help each other –

Usually something has preceded the threat such as a phone call or incident; it is very rare that an attack is unprovoked people who say ‘it came out of nowhere’ may feel this is the case but the perpetrator has most likely had a conversation or disagreement with someone before hand, this may not be the person who their aggression is directed at when they arrive at your workplace. Because of this it is important, especially for shift workers to have a process in place to relay information from one person to another to pre warn them there may be trouble. For example at the end of a shift there should be a place (this could be a book, email, file) where any incidents are marked down such as ‘had a call today from xxx regarding a problem with xxx. Xxx became angry as it had not been resolved and I couldn’t help, xxx ended the call abruptly and said they may come down to resolve it in person.’ This warns the new shift who the person is, what they are angry about and what their intentions are so the new shift can be prepared and inform everyone who may need to know such as security. Remember PREWARNED IS PREARMED.

On the ball.

So by now you are aware there may be someone coming to your workplace in an angry and agitated state of mind so you should be looking out for someone who ticks the boxes I mentioned in my last post. What do you do when you spot that person coming towards you? First thing you should remember is there is safety in numbers so make sure you signal to a colleague or security to stay with you, this could be a tap on the arm/leg, a safe word, if you know the name of the person make sure when you greet them say it loudly so that others around know not to leave you. You may have an emergency button under the desk, don’t be afraid to push it, trust your gut instinct.

Keep calm

Try to build rapport, ask permission to ask a question, mirror their body language and match their volume of speech (although never shout or be aggressive). The best way to do this is – you are sitting behind a desk when they enter but they are standing up, slowly stand up, allow them to air their grievances and then say ‘I understand what you are saying and I’d like to be able to help you, would you mind taking a seat and we can discuss this further?’ if the person says ‘no’ then remain standing and say ‘would you mind if I asked my manager to come over to speak to you to see if they can help you?’ At all times make sure your arms are lifted to about waist height as this will prepare them for defence if needed and keep your body in a strong stance (legs apart).

Keeping them calm.

Allow them to talk, after all may grievances are caused because someone does not feel listened to or because people are not doing what they say they will do. Ask open questions (questions that require more than a yes or no) to allow them to carry on talking, make sure they realise you want to help them by using empathy regarding the situation use phrases such as ‘I can see that.’ Or ‘I can see how that must be frustrating for you’ The most important thing to try to do is break their cycle, often people will continue repeating themselves which will begin to infuriate them even more however they are unable to control it, they need to stop ‘reliving’ the problem and see a solution. This can be done by introducing another person if you are struggling or if you cannot give them the solution they are looking for or moving to a different space within the reception area.

If it’s not working

By moving to a different area this could change their behaviour, are they playing to a crowd or are they using the fact there is no one in earshot to hear them? Make sure you are near an exit and that you have a clear escape route. If you need to introduce a new person into the situation make sure they are aware of the tactics you have tried so they can use different ones and see if they react differently. If the conversation is recorded, tell them, this may help them think more about what they are saying and how they are behaving.

To keep yourself safe make sure you are wearing shoes you can run in, clothing that cannot be grabbed but allows you to move quickly and hair that cannot be grabbed or impair your vision. Position yourself safely, if you have a seat behind a desk make sure you are not tucked behind it, make sure your body is facing an exit to allow quick departure from the desk and to a doorway and make sure the space you are in is open so you are unable to be trapped by walls or corners. The real trick is personal safety, the safer you feel the more in control of the situation you will be.

Don’t leave home without this.

I’ve been blogging for a while now but I still consider myself very new at this and I’m constantly thinking of ways or things that I can post that will really add value. I’ve got over 300 people following my blog now and want to share something really useful. Don’t worry, I’m not selling anything here, I want to give you something for free.  Yes, really!

In the course of my work I’ve developed a model for managing almost any potential conflict situations and it is something that I share and teach in my training courses on conflict management and conflict resolution.  It’s called the P.O.L.I.T.E model which stands for Position, Observation, Listening, Intuition, Talking and Emotional state control. I thought those of you loyal to my blog clearly have interests in conflict management and conflict resolution so you would find this model of value. I have posted on this subject a couple of years ago but don’t worry, I’m not simply repeating what I’ve said before, I intend to demonstrate to you just how versatile, and therefore invaluable,  P.O.L.I.T.E.  really  is. You can use this model in so many different scenarios from personal safety situations to sitting down with a colleague to give them some challenging feedback. I’ll show you this over the course of the next few months and would really welcome your thoughts and feedback on it.

My friends think I’m crazy to give this stuff out for free when I’m not looking for any return,  but I want this blog to be more than me just talking about conflict management and conflict resolution.  I want this blog to be a resource for those that are interested in this area, those that need help and for it to act as a forum for discussion and debate. So for that reason, please let me know what you’re thinking with your comments. I will always try to acknowledge and reply the day you post your thoughts, but as you will appreciate sometimes that does not always happen. So advance apologies!

My first P.O.L.I.T.E post will be later this month so until then, thank you for reading my posts.

Don’t be a fool…personal safety tips

The news is full of stories about attacks on people here’s just a few…

a chef attacked one of his staff in a rage after renowned food critic AA Gill reported that his meal was ‘disgusting’ (which later turned out to be a joke).

…disgraced labour MP Elliot Morley was beaten up in prison as fellow inmates stole his £3,000 Rolex watch

…Wayne Rooney prostitute Helen Wood was beaten up in a pub after taught from other drinkers who recognised her from the scandal.

All of these attacks have one thing in common of course…the victims just didn’t see it coming. Obviously that is the advantage any assailant has on his/her victim which is why we should always consider our personal safety as a matter of routine…it should be as normal a thought as remembering to brush your teeth every morning. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying live your life in fear or always look over your shoulder it’s just about safety…you check your car don’t you? The tyres? The oil? That you’ve put the handbrake on? That it’s not in gear before you start the engine? So apply the same principles….

….what do I have on my person (watch, money etc) do I need it all with me where I am going? Why, I have to ask did MP Elliot Morley have a £3,000 Rolex with him in prison?

….if you a well known figure in an area where you might attract unwanted attention, have you considered how you will get home? Prostitute Helen Wood would have been better placed to apply the ‘flight’ aspect of her adrenalin rush when other drinkers got abusive rather than ‘fight’. Choosing to confront a situation of conflict is not the safest option. If you have an escape route for goodness sake use it. Run.

For the poor employee who got pushed down the stairs by his irate chef I have two tips and this stands for any situation of conflict that you may find yourself in. First of all my assumption would be that the poor employee who was pushed down the stairs must have turned his back on his boss. So his boss had the advantage of surprise and impact – your two worst enemies….so tip number one….

  1. Never turn your back on someone who is being aggressive towards you.

Our natural reaction when someone goes to attack us is to flinch away. My advice is to use this natural response to your advantage and convert your flinch into a forward movement and ideally a pivot to move out of the way. This is what I teach on my personal defence readiness courses and it does take some practice to apply. So tip number two is…

2. Convert your flinch into a forward pivot movement to get you out of the way.

Both these techniques work really well in situations when you find yourself in a conflict situation and keep you ready to protect yourself. But don’t be a hero, when the opportunity arises and it’s safe to do so, get the hell out of there.

Can you attack your burglar?

It might seem a daft question…can you attack your burglar, particularly if they are attacking or threatening to attack you…but up until recently the answer would have been no, or at least not without fear of prosecution irrespective of the threat you may have been under.

Earlier this year the Justice Secretary pledged that an Act of Parliament would be used to clarify the legal situation around the use of reasonable force against intruders. This is on the back of recent high profile cases such as Minr Hussain who chased and beat a man who had held his family at knife point in his home. I’ll be watching developments on this closely over the forth coming months and posting my thoughts in my blog.

All of this prompts me to give my own home security a bit of a review. I spend so much of my time and energy focusing on my first passion of personal safety and conflict management that I forget that protecting my home is another aspect of that. So here’s my top tips for reviewing your home safety:

  1. Install or get your alarm serviced/upgraded. Depending on the level of security (or your budget) you want or need you can get get everything from basic alarms fitted to cctv systems installed.Home security systems actively monitor the doors and windows of a house. Once the system is engaged, any tampering with external exits will trigger the alarm. These devices can be configured to multiple external systems including lights and sirens.
  2. Install security doors and deadbolt locks. These are relatively are simple to install and provide good home protection. Most criminals look for homes without locks as these homes are typically easier to enter. A house that includes a strong steal door with deadbolts deters most criminals. These homes require additional time to invade, which adds unnecessary risk for the thief.
  3. Get a dog. Not to everyone’s liking but they can act as effective deterrents.
  4. You could consider a home evacuation plan. This plan can be executed by family members during a home invasion. Home invasion is a scary ordeal but proper escape planning can help. This protection tactic is best used in hostage situations. These techniques are typically used by families of people such as diplomats, senior executives, and celebrities. That all said, even the most humble of us could do with familiarising ourselves with potential escape routes in the event of a fire, for example.

Get out of that. Wrist releases….

A friend of mine was telling me about an article he’d read on a solicitor’s website about a care-worker who had won damages as a result of her claim for personal injury when a patient she was dealing with grabbed her by the wrist . The prosecutors position was that the employer was negligent for not making sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety of their employee. A settlement to the tune of £220,00 compensation was agreed.

My friend brought this to my attention not because he’s a health and safety fanatic and knows of my work and personal interest in this area but to ask advice. He too had been grabbed by the wrist by a patient (he’s a care-worker) and while there was nothing serious to report about it, the patient being very frail he wondered what was the best way to release a grip such as this and ensure no harm to either himself or the patient.

So this week I thought I’d share with you my top tips for releasing yourself safely from a grip such as this.

Single Handed Parallel Grip.

If the agressor grabs you with the thumb on the inside of the wrist. Thumb – Inside- Turn In. Pull your hand back towards your own body to break contact with their palm. Push your elbow forwards towards the aggressor’s forearm. Step back to re-create the personal safety buffer zone.

I can’t go without a least a comment on the health and safety side of things that this example highlights. Employers put themselves, their employees and their clients/patients at risk if they do not ensure appropriate and regular physical intervention, personal safety skills and conflict management training . When deciding on a course please ensure it covers the legal side of things such as Health and Safety legislation and that your supplier has the appropriate accreditation such as edexcel the UK’s largest awarding body for qualifications and The Institute of conflict management.

Restraint techniques that could kill

It’s likely that many of the readers of my blog will know the dangers of using restraint techniques already. Most experts in the field would argue that used properly the restraint of an individual is safe for both the detainee and the person applying the restraint. That is the point after all. I have always been of the view that physical restraint whenever it is used always carries dangers for all parties and recent published research suggest the same. A study published in Medicine, Science and the Law (a forensic medicine publication) concluded that forcing a detainee to bend over while seated can lead to death because the hold reduces lung capacity significantly.

There is a picture of the hold if you click here. This is a hold you find being used potentially in mental health situations or private security organisations. So for example it may be used on an aircraft.

The BBC ran a story last week connecting this research the death of Jimmy Mubenga, 46, who died not long after being restrained on his deportation flight out of Heathrow last year. Post-mortem examinations were inconclusive and three security guards employed by the escorting security organisation have been arrested and put on bail.

As I understand it the research involved forty volunteers who were put in a seated position and lent forward so their faces were close to their lap. They were then held in that position. The research suggested that it was the position rather than any force applied that was the main problem as the position restricted lung capacity and air flow. This would be worsened if your detainee was over-weight. The researchers expressed concerns that detainees in this hold may struggle to breathe but that their struggling could be misinterpreted by the enforcer who may push them lower into the forward position, making breathing even more difficult. I’m sure you get the picture. It’s a terrible image and highlights the challenges of security personnel ever more.

If you are in the security profession either as a security officer or as the CEO please take note. There are many good courses out there which will keep you and the general public safe and well. Invest your time and money wisely…you should look for a course that will cover these key elements:

  • Differentiates between holding, escorting and restraining and non-harmful seated restraint techniques and how to apply them.
  • Demonstrates and explains how to gradually de-escalate and relax a restraint to allow the subject being restrained to regain self-control.
  • Explores the risks associated with alcohol and drugs, knives and other forms of edged weapons in relation to the use of physical restraint.
  • Investigates the difference between non-harmful methods of control and more restrictive methods of control and when the use of such methods would be considered appropriate.
  • Explores all legal aspects of physical restraint and particularly that as it relates to Reasonable Force and Health and Safety.
  • Provides you with the physical skills required to handle potentially violent situations.
  • Provides you with the physical skills to safely control others whilst being compliant with legislation.

Company Directors charged under Corporate Manslaughter Act

I’ve been reading a few blogs recently about Lion Steel Ltd.who are the second company to be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 since its implementation. This is a real wake up call for Company Directors to sit up and take notice of staff safety as they will be held to account.

The Greater Manchester Police  have charged the storage manufacturing company with corporate manslaughter as a result of the death of an employee when he fell through a fragile plastic roof panel on an industrial estate. I have also read that the company is charged under section 2 and 33 of the Health and Safety Work Acts 1974 (HSWA) for failing to ensure the safety at work of its employees.

So it is that the three directors are each accused of manslaughter by gross negligence under section 37 of the HSWA for failing to ensure the safety at work of their employees.

Notwithstanding the terrible tragedy of the dealth of a man I am pleased to see that the Corporate Manslaughter Act is being used and has not just been a paper exercise. I believe employers should look upon this act as an opportunity to really look at the personal safety of their employees. Equally employees should use this Act as a way to ensure they are getting everything they are entitled to receive to enable them to their jobs safely and effectively. This will include the environment they work in, the equipment used and the quality and frequency of the training they receive.

This applies to all types of workplace, not just where there are obvious risks such as in manufacturing or building services but also where personal safety could be an issue due to staff members interactions with the general public. The NHS for example, often reports violence from patients towards their staff, and this not always from the mentally unstable. So here we have a caring profession….not somewhere you would automatically think of as an environment in need of personal safety for its staff…that in reality needs to and in many cases does, provide personal safety training for it’s staff.

The first hearing for Lion Steel Ltd. Will take place on 2nd August.

Doorstaff arrested on suspicion of murder

I want to share with you a tragic and ongoing situation that raises a number of interesting points for me around physical intervention strategies when dealing with conflict. The situation concerns four door security men from a nightspot in Southend who have recently been arrested on supicion of the murder of  Reece Lamude. Mr Lamude, 37, was rushed to hospital following an altercation with the four door supervisors but hospital staff were uable to save him and he died early that morning. The post-mortum examination revealed that Mr Lamude had sustained neck injuries, possibly as a result of the incident.

This case is of interest to me because it raises…and not for the first time…the issue of the use of reasonable force when dealing with conflict situations.  It is as ever a highly sensitive area and without acurate eye witness accounts or cctv footage it may be impossible to unpick what happened on that night. The four securaity guards in question are not the only ones who should be called to question here as their employers also have a part to play. Did their employers ensure that they had recieved all the required and appropriate training?

For those of you that don’t know all door supervisors should hold an SIA licence.That gives them a basic knowledge to permit them to be legally employed as a security guard. But it’s a bit like getting your drivers licence. You don’t get your licence and then start racing formula one cars and so it is the case with security guards of busy nightspots.

Employers of such venues should know that additonal <a ” title=”Physical intervention training” href=”/btec-level-2-breakaway-and-self-defence” target=”_self”>physical intervention and conflict management training is more than likely necessary if their venue is likely to attract situations of violence and aggression. Failure on their part to supply this is a breach, by them, of the Health and Safety Act. So they too have a part to play.

Now none of this helps the tragedy of Reece Lamude’s situation and the courts will decide the outcome of that later in the year. But I would like to hope that cases like this raise the importance to employers to provide appropriate training to their staff and also for employees to demand appropriate training if they believe they are at risk. It will all go along way to making it safer for us all whether we are an employee or a member of the public like Reece.