Defusing Skills Pilot with Thames Valley Police

Supporting Thames Valley Police with community defusing skills training

Thames Valley Police partnered with Dfuse to pilot training for community members and frequent complainants of antisocial behaviour.

“We knew of the work of Dfuse and thought their approach might help us to work with people to reduce anti-social behaviour”

Dfuse believes there is a role for the public in responding to anti-social behaviour, in much the same way as the public help the medical emergency services by performing first aid. In partnership with Thames Valley Police, Dfuse offered free places on its Defusing conflict and anti-social behaviour courses to members of the public across the Thames Valley. The course taught techniques and skills to enable people to deal with potential incidents of ASB before they escalate to a point where police need to be called.

Like learning first aid, the skills for responding to ASB can be learnt, but individuals must also be confident in applying the skills and be willing to take action to benefit their community. In 2012 Thames Valley Police were called to 45,090 ASB incidents. This pilot was to see whether community education would lead to a reduction in the number of minor ASB incidents escalating and therefore not need a Police intervention.

Ch Supt Tim De Meyer, Head of Neighbourhood Policing and Partnerships, said: “It is important to work closely with our partners to tackle anti-social behaviour as it covers such a wide range of incidents. We knew of the work of Dfuse and thought their approach might help us to work with people to reduce anti-social behaviour. Its purpose is not to encourage people to put themselves in danger. The idea is to educate people in how to deal with conflict and so prevent minor incidents escalating.  We hope that this will enable people to help themselves, their communities, and the police to resolve problems. People will be given the skills and confidence to reduce the potential for conflict and complement the work of their neighbourhood policing team.  They will not be encouraged to take unnecessary risks.”

Dfuse and Thames Valley Community Defusing

Dfuse provided training in each of the local policing areas (LPAs) and aimed to tackle the particular problems of anti social behaviour that affect a specific neighbourhood.

The evaluation of the programme sought to establish whether skilling the community had the potential to contribute to reducing the effects of conflict and antisocial behaviour.  In particular by reducing the police attendance at incidents which do not require their attention, and by preventing volatile situations from escalating to the point where police attendance is required.

You can download the full evaluation report which outlines the findings here. Download

The training workshops were designed to equip members of the public with the skills necessary to use dynamic risk assessment at a potential incident and then seek to prevent escalation of a difficult or challenging incident into something more violent or criminal. The skills also assist neighbours to address concerns about each others behaviour at a time and in a manner which does not cause escalation.

Many residents who attended were regular complainants about antisocial behaviour. Others attended as part of their employment – including shop and bar staff – or because they perform a specific role in the community – including Street Pastors.

“Some of those who attended training had an occasion to use their new skills, and did so with success – without calling the Police.”

The results of the evaluation suggest that training the public to respond to community conflicts and antisocial behaviour could lead to a reduction in the numbers of calls made to for assistance. Uptake of the training was lower than anticipated and training was spread thinly across Thames Valley and so it was not possible to isolate the impact on antisocial behaviour related calls to the Police. However, the individuals who received training reported learning new techniques and displayed measurable and lasting increases in confidence to deal with conflict and willingness to challenge antisocial behaviour in their community. Some of those who attended training had an occasion to use their new skills, and did so with success – without calling the Police. For example one resident who persistently complained to the Police successfully resolved their issue with one simple conversation.

The findings suggest that community members are willing to act to prevent antisocial behaviour worsening which could lead to cost saving benefits for the Police and Crime Commissioner PCC. In addition, Police and Public joint ownership of community problems, promoted through this approach, is a useful way to strengthen police and public partnerships around antisocial behaviour. This could create stronger relationships between the public and all agencies who are involved in the process of managing antisocial behaviour in the community.