Restraint and the Use of Force

James Hourihan, Author

Just Because You Can 

In our world of Behaviour Management approaches there is an ongoing, some would say raging debate, concerning ‘use of force’ measures under the ‘reasonable and proportionate’ defense argument.  The media focus on ‘use of force’ incidents that have resulted in tragedy in recent times has greatly amplified this debate with training organisations, practitioners, advocates and others pitching in with their thoughts and perspectives.

Alternatives to Restraint

In Timian  we have a simple framework that can be employed to help staff and their organisations navigate these situations and scenarios.  It is called the ‘Gradual & Graded Hierarchy of Alternatives’.  The ‘Alternative’ to physical intervention or restraint that is….  In exploring this model participants get to evaluate a set of behavioural response alternatives that might better divert or de-escalate an individual’s behaviour from progressing to be a danger to themselves or others.

Can we always avoid things needing a physical response?  Sadly not’ and our ‘Duty of Care’ and dynamic risk assessment responsibility may require us to intervene, to maintain safety,  in a way that includes physical holding.  Even in this situation though we still have choice about what type of hold or positions to use, and the framework aids staff in these deliberations also.

Should you Restrain

As the expression goes… ‘Just because you can, does not mean you should…’  Whilst an individual’s behaviour may technically justify a ‘physical response’ on the basis of ‘use of force’ legislation or guidance, that does not eliminate the potential value or positive impact of an alternative ‘non physical’ responses.  In all of this deliberation, the presence of a healthy relationship (where circumstances allow) with the person concerned is going to be a great barometer to shape and inform our actions.

Positive Behaviour Support

As a Positive Behaviour Support and management approach, the Timian System does not ‘trump’ organisation policy and procedures but rather, seeks to inform and widen the skillset and tools available to all parties to promote safety.  For us an ‘action’ or ‘in-action’ is not simply okay because it can be defended legally, it also has to be defensible ethically to our stated values and person-centered approach.

Simon Kemp - CEO

Timian Learning and Development


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