Buyers Guide to purchasing Personal Safety/Conflict Management training courses

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Best practice guide for purchasing personal safety, conflict resolution & physical intervention training.

The ten things you need to consider prior to engaging with training providers which some training providers may not want you to know


Having worked for many years in law enforcement & consumer protection I have gained substantial knowledge about fair trading practices.
Having now been involved in running my own limited company for over 6 years I have Become aware of the vast differences in the level of protection afforded consumers as opposed to those of us who deal in trade to trade negotiations.

I have therefore listed below a number of areas which need addressing when negotiating with potential training providers to assist potential buyers.

(1) Question: Advertising/Marketing material
Should I take all training companies marketing material at face value?
Answer: Definitely not statements such as the Leading provider, the number one provider in Personal Safety, Lone working, Violence at work management etc are virtually always misleading.
Just check this out for yourself type these terms into Google and see how many thousands of personal safety & conflict resolution training providers  are using such terms known in the industry as mere advertising puff.
Common sense tells you that they cannot all be the best, the leading, or number one providers in violence & aggression training etc.
However by contrast other claims identifying an independent body are easy to check out e.g. City & Guilds Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) by simply visiting their web sites
You would expect any organisation claiming to be the leading provider in Personal Safety, Lone working, Violence at work management and physical intervention skills to be registered with at least one independent accredited body as not having such status will exclude them from providing professional training to large to many industry sectors e.g. front line staff in the security industry, certain, front line staff Local authority enforcement officers etc.

(2) Question: Accredited versus Non accredited courses.
Should I purchase an accredited or non accredited violence & aggression training package?

This will depend largely on the industry sector you are providing training to.E.g for the majority of both private & public sector organisations a non independently assessed training course will be fine.
However there are certain industry sectors where accredited conflict resolution/management training courses are mandatory e.g. the security industry which is now regulated by the SIA.
The SIA have imposed a minimum standard requiring any training company providing conflict Resolution or physical intervention training to be a registered training organisation with a national recognised educational training organisation, e.g. City & Guilds, Edexcel or the equivalent.
ACPO have also recommended that enforcement staff working at the front/Sharpe end dealing with highly charged situations should receive training from an independently accredited company as above.
To obtain this accreditation training organizations need to satisfy the relevant body that they have all the necessary quality assurance procedures in place, undergo certain financial investigations, have trainers with the relevant teacher/trainer qualifications both in general teaching (Ptlls) and a specific trainer/trainer qualification in Conflict Resolution/.Management, & physical intervention training (if they intent to do the latter)

(3) Qualifications.
What qualifications should I look for in the actual trainers?

Again if you search the internet or read some of the marketing material which is sent out by some companies you will come across vague terms such as qualified psychologist, what does this actually mean qualified with whom? To what level? Such statements are virtually impossible to check out and require further investigation.
So again unless a qualifying body is identified these statements should be treated with caution.
In reality in many industries there is no requirement for trainers to have any formal qualification but there are exceptions to this e.g. the security industry where anyone requiring to obtain the SIA badge must undergo training with both an accredited trainer & training company accredited to the highest level (security Level).

(4) Question: Experience
What experience should I be looking for in the actual trainers?

This is an important consideration, many training companies emphasise the fact the trainers have achieved high ranking martial arts qualifications.
Experience gained from martial arts training can be relevant to Personal Safety & Conflict Resolution, but in general martial artist learn to fight.
Having achieved training up to black belt standard in several martial arts along with several of my other trainers I can state that Conflict Resolution plays little part in this training.

A far more important consideration when choosing trainers is their personal experience in dealing with high risk challenging situations.
This experience enables them to distinguish between theory and what actually works in the real world.
So when considering using a particular training organisation asks the question, what practical experience has the trainers have had? E.g. Law enforcement, high level security employment, acute psychiatric institutions etc are the obvious ones here.

(5) Question: Price
What is a reasonable fee to pay for Violence & Aggression training?

Answer: this will obviously vary depending on the actual training.
What you should be looking for in the current economical climate is flexibility
Some training providers charge a fixed rate per number of delegates whilst others charge an individual per person rate the latter usually results in a much higher cost to the purchasing authority.
So is there any justification for charging a per person rate? Yes in some circumstances but in the majority of cases No.
Per person rates are necessary where a nationally accredited Personal Safety/Conflict Resolution courses are commissioned simply because the awarding bodies charge a per person rate for candidate enrolment, exam papers, certification etc.
The fees can be as low as £20 pp for a one day level 2 award but as high as £195 pp for a level 3 trainer/trainer certificate in Personal/Conflict Resolution or physical intervention skills training (4 day course).

The training organisation will also need to charge usually a small price pp charge to cover their pre-course and post course administration.
The only other justification for paying a price pp fee is if the training organisation are providing the venue as they will probably be incurring a price pp charge themselves usually around £30 PP.

In conclusion if you are able to provide the venue, and do not need accredited training you should not be paying a price pp fee.
If you have the flexibility to commission training a time when training traditionally is less in demand e.g. holiday periods e.g. July –mid September around Christmas time etc you should be able to negotiate a substantial discount especially if you are commissioning a substantial number of violence & aggression management training courses.

(6) Question: Up front fees
Should I pay upfront fees?

Generally you should not pay any fees up front but there are some exceptions to this.
Again if the training organisation is providing the venue they may have to pay non refundable fees to the venue and the same would apply in the case of accredited courses were delegate fees will have to be paid up front fees to the relevant body and are usually non refundable.
Most professional training companies will only invoice their clients after the course is completed and are satisfied that the learning outcomes were met.

(7)Question: Company credibility
How can I check how long a training company has been trading?

If the company has limited status this is relatively easy as their details will be held by Companies House and there are numerous web sites which will give free information about a company’s status including date of incorporation etc. E.g.
In the case of sole traders & partnerships this is a little more difficult as there trading record will not be in the public domain.
If they have a web site you could get some idea by downloading the Google tool bar which enables you to check there Google ranking.
You can also check their inward links by inserting Links: followed by their web address into Yahoo site explorer.
If a company has no Google ranking and no inbound links this is an indication that they are a relatively new service provider in Personal Safety/Conflict Resolution etc.
Just because a company is new to this field does not suggest they will be providing an inferior product and I have personally provided assistance to new companies who want to get into this area of work one as far away as Norway, but I do question the integrity of such providers when they make grossly exaggerated claims such as the best personal safety/conflict resolution training provider or the leading provider in violence & aggression training etc.

(8) Question: Testimonials
How can I check out if the testimonials used in marketing material are genuine?

Answer: This should be a relatively simple procedure providing sufficient details are given in the reference to the testimonial for example the name of the person giving the testimonial, their job title & the department they work.
Vague testimonials even if they identify the organisation but fail to identify any particular person should be treated with caution.

One relatively small local authority which I worked for for several years had over two hundred different departments so to check out a particular testimonial without a named individual would be virtually impossible.

If an individual as consented t o his/her testimonial being used then there is no Data Protection issues ( feedback forms should contain such a declaration indicating where or not this information can be used in marketing material).
Conclusion Ask yourself if the testimonial is so vague it cannot be verified why is this.

(9) Question: Terms & Conditions
Do I need to check the providers Term & Conditions?

Yes, generally speaking you can will bound by the training companies T & C once you have entered into an agreement.
You will however be afforded some protection under the 1977 Unfair Contracts Terms act but not to the same degree that you would be if you were contracting as a consumer.
Find further information about the UCTA on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) website – Opens in a new window.
In reality most training companies do not attempt to impose unfair contract terms but just check the small print if negotiating an actual contract.
(10) Duration of training.

How long should a Personal Safety, Conflict Resolution training course last?
The majority of courses can be delivered in just one full day.
This also applies to many accredited courses as courses which normally would require two or more days to deliver can be substantially reduced by introducing blended and accelerated learning techniques resulting in substantial savings in both terms of time and fees payable to the training company.

Chris Jordan
Qualified CIEH & City & Guilds Trainer
MITSA (member of Institute of Trading Standards Association)

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