Use of ‘Reasonable’ force…..

It seems that most weeks we are seeing stories covered in the media reporting on issues around the use, or misuse, of force for all manner of reasons.  Only last week the Government revised its advice for schools on the use of reasonable force.

Whilst it is not our place, or intention, to pass any kind of judgment on the rights or wrongs of the application of force, it is an issue that will usually generate some lively discussion in Maybo training courses, as well as in classes led by Instructors back at their centres of employment.  Part of the reason for the lively discussion derives from the differing discipline, National, EU & International elements that are brought to bare in defence of individual actions, we are usually looking for the trump card to defend our actions in any given situation. 

Determining legality of individual actions is a role for the legal and court system not Maybo. Determining the position of organisational behavior sits with employing organisations and communication of such should be clear from defined policies and procedures.  Our role in Maybo (module five of our conflict management curriculum) simply covers sharing of information to increase awareness on key issues around liability and legal issues, such as relate to individual actions, organisational actions and the use of restraint.

Key messages

So when the debate gets lively around the use of force what are some of the key messages that are worth focusing on?  Firstly, an understanding of our relationship basis with the individuals we serve.  In most cases this is based upon a ‘Duty of Care’ concept derived the ancient maxim primum non nocere, which, translated from the Latin, means "first, do no harm."  Setting forth this position as a starting point gives us a good foundation to reference back to as we look at the use of force continuum of responses.

A secondary message worth considering is this, “Any application of force, from one person to another, without consent or lawful excuse may be an assault.”  The obvious question that falls from this statement is – to what extent do our organisational policies and procedures define the application of force without consent and what protections are in place to support staff and service users from abuse or malicious allegation therein?

The final, key consideration is this, a person will only be justified in the use of force if he or she has a genuine and honestly held belief that there is imminent danger which justifies the force being used and the force used is reasonable on the basis of that belief.  Necessary, Reasonable and Proportionate are the critical components here.

The above may help to give shape and structure to those lively discussions in class, but it is no substitute for the provision of appropriate policy and individual user specific plans.   


Posted by Maybo on April 16, 2012


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