7.2 So what is Conflict?

People can react badly to enforcement. The number one rule is to never put yourself in a position that where you could get hurt. The FPN is not worth an injury, you are wearing a camera and we can always try to identify the offender later.

Effects of Conflict on the human body

Conflict is a stressful condition for the human body. The bodies natural reaction to conflict / stress / anger / excitement / fear is to produce the chemical adrenaline. Adrenaline “supercharges” our bodies, providing extra energy to the muscles, making us stronger and react faster.

In essence the body prepares itself for the situation known as Flight or Fight, the two choices available when under attack.

Under normal circumstances, you use the neo-cortex part of your brain to process information, the neo-cortex processes information relatively slowly. This enables reasoned, RATIONAL thought out responses.

When adrenaline enters the body another part of the brain takes over, the Amygdala. This part of the brain is fast acting, it operates when we are EMOTIONAL, it can produce fast reactions but not thought out response.

As a situation calms and Adrenaline reduces we move back from the EMOTIONAL, REACTIVE state, back to a RATIONAL, RESPONSIVE state.

Clearly it is better to RESPOND to situations than REACT.


“Triggers” are things that will push people into this adrenaline fuelled EMOTIONAL state

· Fear

· Embarrassment

· Humiliation

· Talking down to people

· Interrupting

· Not listening

Signs of Escalation

· Focus and conversation shifting to you rather than the topic being discussed

· Closing the distance

· Stance shifting to a traditional fighting posture, foot forward, side on profile, head dropping to protect neck, hands raised and clenching

· Increased volume, swearing and reduced vocabulary as adrenaline affects higher brain functions, voice strained due to tightening of the vocal cords

· No longer listening as EMOTIONAL brain has taken over

· Threats

Dynamic Risk Assessment

As a conflict situation develops the level of risk to you may change in any direction. You should be continuously refreshing your assessment of the risk to you. An easy way to focus this assessment that is easy to remember is POPS.

Person – body language, tone, signs of escalation,

Objects – Things held that could be used as a weapon, vehicles, etc

Place – Exits routes, Witnesses

Situation – People becoming involved, escalation, support arriving

Use the SAFER Approach combined with PALMS

Step back, both physically and mentally allowing time for RATIONAL thought

Assess the threat and continue to do so dynamically

Find help, call for support or the Police

Evaluate your options, should I stay, Is my current technique working?

Respond, calmly respond, aware of the situation, take action

Combine the above with PALMS, open palms are a great way of signalling non-aggression and also spell out this acronym of how to stay safe

Position, out of arms reach, able to leave if need be

Attitude, maintain a calm professional attitude, do not become EMOTIONAL

Look and listen for sign of escalation

Make space, move if needed, do not enter personal space

Stance, make sure you are prepared for unprovoked aggression

Empathising, listening and reminding offenders of the consequences of their actions are great ways to de-escalate conflict. Remember we are always trying to remain in the RATIONAL rather than EMOTIONAL state.

Instances of aggression and conflict can however be distressing, report incidents to your Team Leader, support colleagues and remember by sharing our experiences we can develop our skills, identify areas for development and reduce incidents.