Thursday, June 28, 2018

Irish Police Negotiators involved in 86 tense negotiation stand-offs last year

EXPERT cops were involved in 86 tense stand-offs with people threatening to take hostages and others vowing to take their own lives in 2017.
A special Irish Sun on Sunday investigation on the work of the Garda National Negotiation Unit shows how officers are dealing with almost two ‘crisis incidents’ per week.
...The majority of calls they receive relate to people attempting to take their own lives. But they have also been involved in incidents after criminals have gone on the rampage or barricaded themselves into properties.
Read more [HERE]. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Trauma Of Violence Brings Mental Illness

The following can help those working in crisis situations generate empathy for those people they are trying to help that are in a crisis, experiencing trauma and suffering from a mental illness:
I’ve treated individuals who experienced gun violence. They have brutal nightmares and can experience debilitating shock when someone is behind them in the grocery store. Their lives are wrecked by fear. Neurobiological processes imprint memories of the event, and can be triggered at any given moment. I’ve also treated mothers who have lost children. They’ve been hospitalized for thoughts of suicide and severe symptoms of distress and depression. Their lives hold pain and darkness, even 30 or more years later. They often lose motivation to work, and struggle especially in the days surrounding the anniversary of the tragedy.
The problem is that mental illness affects individuals and families. It affects entire communities...
Read more from Luming Li/the Hartford Courant [HERE]. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Risk of being a crime victim goes up with mental illness diagnosis

(Reuters Health) - Having a mental illness makes people more vulnerable to becoming the victims of a crime, a recent analysis suggests.

Based on nationwide data from more than 2 million people in Denmark, researchers found that in the 10 years following a diagnosis with any psychiatric disorder, a man’s risk of being the victim of a crime that was reported to police rose by 50 percent. For women, the risk went up by 64 percent compared to women without mental illnesses.

The greatest increased danger was from violent crime: men’s risk of being a victim rose by 76 percent while women’s went up nearly three-fold, the study team reports in JAMA Psychiatry.
“This study confirms what we’ve known for a long time, which is that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims, not perpetrators of crime. Perpetrators choose victims who seem powerless and helpless,” said Dr. Renee Binder, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Psychiatry and the Law program at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School.

Read the full article [HERE]. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mental Disorder in Terrorism, Mass Murder and Violence: Moving Away From Pathologising Grievance

The following is an excerpt from the latest CREST Security Review (Issue 8). You'll see how from the snippet below, the material is directly applicable to those working in crisis situations be it as as law enforcement negotiator, crisis intervention specialist, crisis counselor or another type of role. 

The assumption of mental disorder causing violent behaviour has instinctive appeal: It offers a clear-cut and simple explanation of why people choose violence. By attributing Paddock’s record act of violence to mental disorder (as understood by the general public), as opposed to a political aim, it fits with the popular image of a crazed killer.  
The case of Paddock is not isolated. Media coverage of many recent mass killings has shown the desire to attribute motivation to mental illness. The cases of Dylann Roof, Esteban SantiagoRuiz, Michel Zehaf-Bibeau, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, and Omar Mateen have all attracted wide media coverage, mainly because of the discussion surrounding how their actions should be labelled due to their suspected mental disorder. 
...Just because a factor (such as mental disorder) is present in a case of mass violence, does not make it causal. Nor is it always facilitative. It may be completely irrelevant. We must be comfortable with this complexity; understand that where mental health problems are present, they are usually one of several aspects in a risk profile; and by doing so, not stigmatising the vast majority of people that suffer from mental health problems while remaining non-violent, non-radicalised, and in need of care.

Read more from Emily Corner [HERE]. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Crisis Negotiator Skills: The Experts Weigh In

New research reveals what makes law enforcement hostage negotiators effective.

Recent research conducted on the skills law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiators believe that makes them effective has helped bridge the gap between the “science” and the actual “practice” of crisis negotiation. The findings of the study, published in Police Practice and Research(link is external) (Johnson, Thompson, Hall, & Meyer, 2017), identifies the skills that not only work during these tense, (potentially) volatile, and emotionally driven situations but also what these crisis negotiation experts also find to be ineffective.

The study provides the insight from nearly 200 law enforcement negotiators and below are some of the key findings.

First Impressions

There is a substantial amount of research in psychology connecting first impressions with building rapport and demonstrating empathy. Rapport and empathy are also both important to getting what you want.
First impressions are not just for blind dates either. In crisis situations the implications are much more serious and have a legitimate impact on the rest of the interaction. The research on this is referred to thin slice methodologyand I recommend you read more it (here for example). Remember, as you will see from the results first impressions involve verbal and nonverbal communication.
Law enforcement hostage negotiators place a significant amount of importance on how they look and how they begin their interaction with the subject (the person they are negotiating with).
  • Rarely do they say their rank (93% do not)
  • The majority do not say they are a negotiator (only 27% do)
  • The majority either “always” or “usually” (combined 64%) wear something that identifies themselves as negotiators
So what does this mean? If the negotiator is seeking to de-escalate the situation, how he or she begins the interaction is critical to setting that tone right away. Consider the difference between the following:
Read the rest of the article [HERE]
Get access to the research report [HERE]. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018


The following is an excerpt from the latest CREST Security Review (Issue 8). You'll see how from the snippet below, the material is directly applicable to those working in crisis situations be it as as law enforcement negotiator, crisis intervention specialist, crisis counselor or another type of role. 

My research has sought to establish patterns in the language of extremist groups in order to ascertain a common set of strategies used by authors in their attempts to persuade others. These strategies include argument-focused strategies, such as applying pressure directly to the audience in the form of commands; group-focused strategies such as the use of moral comparisons between in-groups and out-groups or a heavy reliance on social norms; and author-focused strategies that include attempts to establish likeability with the audience or inspire them. Influence tactics vary from group to group and from individual...

The identification of influence tactics featured in extremist messages may also be useful in the creation of counter messages as an alternative strategy to takedowns. However, a key consideration raised here is the extent to which one can utilise the influence tactics derived from extremist messages to create an effective set of counter-persuasion strategies. Here the focus should shift towards a more enhanced understanding of how consumers respond to particular influence tactics and from whom, with consideration given to individual differences, and favourably received influence tactics informing counter-terrorism responses.
Read more from Sheryl Prentice [HERE]. 

Friday, June 1, 2018


The following is an excerpt from the latest CREST Security Review (Issue 8). You'll see how from the snippet below, the material is directly applicable to those working in crisis situations be it as as law enforcement negotiator, crisis intervention specialist, crisis counselor or another type of role. 

Our research is based on the examination of thousands of hours of real police interrogations with high value targets. What seemed to work best was quite different from some techniques such as pre-suasion (see Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin on page 4 in this issue) and had far more in common with psychologists such as Carl Rogers, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick who take a humanistic approach, which empahsises empathy and the good in human behaviour. This approach is client-centered and requires that the client takes an active role in their own treatment. This approach also requies that the interviewer in the interactions shows ‘unconditional positive regard’, which entails accepting others without judgment or evaluation.

These therapeutic approaches have long been established as particularly effective means by which to encourage behavioural change, such as violence reduction, more healthy lifestyles and a reduction or abstinence from alcohol or drugs. However, when we observed similar approaches used by interviewers, even though not trained in any of these methods, the outcomes included: (i) a reduction in aggressive and resistant detainee behaviours; (ii) an increase in detainee engagement and willingness to talk and; (iii) the production of more information, intelligence and evidence... 

We found that showing empathy and positive regard resulted in both more engagement from the detainee and more information. Although rare, it also was also more likely to generate admissions of guilt. In contrast, a lack of empathy, distance or indifference towards the individual generated less information and could lead to no comment or silence. Importantly, faking empathy or simplistic displays, or trick empathy was readily seen through and backfired. As such, it is not enough to ‘try’ empathy, one has to make a genuine effort to show positive regard.

Read more from Emily and Laurence Alison [HERE].