We do not like to make life easy for Offenders who steal from our communities, but the most important thing is to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe so let's talk about DE-ESCALATION...
COUNTER CRIME PARTNERSHIP, at its core, is a communication network for retailers, entertainment venues and organisations; aiming to build local working relationships and teamwork. This is demonstrated nearly every day on CCP channels. A particular example we refer to quite a lot is when the Manager of JD Sports in Clacton-on-Sea reported that "a shoplifter is turning violent..." in their neighbouring store, Boots. Boots were not (and still are not at time of writing) even a CCP Member. Starting the Stopwatch whilst listening to the play-back; within 30 seconds the JD Sports Manager had returned with two members of her team and the Manager from WH Smith's from accross the road had arrived. After a further 60 seconds the professional Security Guards from Morrisons and Sainsbury's had arrived and the simple show of numbers had completely difused the situation without a single raised voice by CCP Members.
We refer to the above outcome as SELF DE-ESCALATION because the Offender made the choice to leave without any actual physical or verbal intervention. He was simply presented with a change of dynamic and re-acted accordingly. Sometimes however tensions can run much higher than that. He or she may think they have a chance to fight or get away. They could be really angry and out of control; which can be really scary. You may know that backup is minutes rather than seconds away...So it may be down to you, the Security Guard or a Store Manager to DE-ESCALATE THE PERSON whilst waiting for help. Note the use of the word "person" now as oposed to "Offender". So, how do we de-escale someone? Dr. Christian Conte breaks the process down into three quick steps for people to help other people to regain control:
(1) Validate - Acknowledge how the person feels. "You seem really fired up right now..." Saying the words is not enough though, you need to recocnise how the other person feels and understand that in their mind they have the right to feel that way, to be angry. Those Steaks in their backpack belong to them now so they're going to defent them with their fists or whatever weapon they have. To help them regain control, we need to continue to validate them until they feel validtated. We will recognise the physical release of their emotions when they feel validated, that you are listening to them. When you see that emotional release, then you can move on to step two.
(2) Help the person find options - "You can do that thing that you were going to do and that is an option, but what will the consequences of that option be..." "You have a choice...". What we want to do is help the person explore what their other options are and we can start to pool in our ideas. Naturally this only works after step one becasue when a person is heated up they can only see things in a very narrow minded way. When they step back they can see a bigger picture. "Hey, there's no harm done so far, what you could do is put those Steaks on that shelf there and get yourself home..."
(3) Allow for choice - You genuinly and heart felt give that person the choice. "Whatever you decide to do that is on you...". You respect their free will. It may just be that their choice is to try to punch you in the face so be on your guard, but usually if you have got this far, the person will feel that they do not have to fight for their position anymore. Ideally the person will now feel emotionally safe enough to acknowledge that what they were doing was out of control and make a more rational decision from what to do from this moment forward.
To truly de-escalete someone you validate them, you help them figure out other options and then you provide a safe enough emotional space in which you respect their free will to choose whatever they are going to choose.
Credit to Dr Christian Conte.
This guideance is intended to allow CCP Members to be be prepared. It is food for thought. If you enjoyed reading it you should consider investing in some professional Training for yourself and team.
CCP can be adopted by Community Safety Partnerships (CSP), Business Improvement Districts (BID) or Businessess Against Crime (BAC) organisations either in full under the CCP branding OR white labelled under a district's existing scheme branding.
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