Manager Psychological Services Angela Nelmes delivers combined Corrections and Police Hostage negotiator training at NRCF. Prisons are dynamic workplace environments where a situation can change rapidly and without warning. We know how important it is to provide the right training and support to sites to ensure staff are able to successfully resolve high pressure situations.

Thankfully, our Corrections psychologists are well-placed to deliver training on understanding human behaviour and how to manage emotions. Their skill and expertise were put to good use at a combined Corrections and Police Hostage negotiator training led by Northland Region Corrections Facility psychologists last month. Following the training they put the theory into practice in a practical exercise.

Manager Psychological Services Angela Nelmes says this is the first time these teams have come together to consider how they may work together when incidents occur in prison. “The day was amazing and hopefully is the first of many joint trainings.”

This training, presented by Angela and Psychologist Hannah Young at Northland Region Corrections Facility, was about understanding the underlying human behaviour and how to manage emotions and de-escalate a situation to enable successful negotiation. One police participant said, “I have been doing this for 10 years and I have never been taught this, it was excellent.”

The facilitators were impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the 13 prison and police  participants.

Senior Sergeant Dylan Robinson says this is the start of how training may look in the future. Plans are underway for our psychologists to co-facilitate hostage negotiator training with Senior Adviser Tactical Operations PNT Stephen Hughes.

Our psychologists have a wealth of knowledge about psychological theories, human behaviour, mental and psychological heath. The Prison Negotiator Training manual identifies the psychological concepts and skills that are used by negotiators during an incident. Some of these include problem individuals, psychological issues, typology of hostage takers, personality disorders, mental health, suicide interventions, Stockholm syndrome, and communication skills.

Angela says within a hostage/riot type incident, psychologists can be useful in formulating pathways to offending and how these may manifest in terms of harm or violence.

“Having been involved in many reviews over the years both here and abroad, I believe it would be highly advantageous for those who are managing incidents (especially hostage and protest incidents) to use the expertise of psychologists to help resolve incidents safely,” says Angela.