Chris Kirkpatrick – responds to the most common questions asked of Westlake

You train in Self Defence – Why?
Physical attacks are rare but they are of significant risk to require training, however the biggest factor in deterring an attack is confidence – and knowing that you can escape should the worst happen gives you that confidence.

It is not just about physical skills – very few incidents go physical, we predominately teach Conflict Management to give people the verbal skills to manage an incident and get out.

What is your advice in a bad situation?
Run – Distance is your safety. If you cannot, adopt protective stances and talk the situation down.

What drives you to teach Conflict Management?
Everyone at Westlake despises violence and bullying – be that physical or verbal.

Do you need to be fit to do the Breakaway training?
No – Training is suitable for absolutely everyone – we have trained people of all ages and physical conditions. All training relies on technique.

Why do front line staff need this Protection?
Front line staff take a lot of abuse and put themselves in a lot of personal danger. For example, when a tenant contacts the Housing Association and mentions an anti social neighbour, who goes out first? Not the Police – the housing officer.

Front line staff are undervalued and under supported. Police have the protection of the uniform – hit a policeman and you go to prison – hit a front line worker and more than likely nothing will happen.

What are the Rewards of working with front line staff?
Front line staff are in the job they are because they are selfless and they care for others. They are bright intelligent and articulate people who could have successful careers in safer and more appreciative professions – but they choose to give to others.

Who would not want to spend their working time with such people and have the privilege of helping them?

Do the courses frighten staff?
No. The staff are very aware of the risks and are grateful for the fact that the organisation has seen fit to invest in their personal safety. All the courses are delivered with humour – not to diminish the seriousness of the situation but to provide a fun based learning environment.

How do you keep the training in line with the law?
I look after our legal and training update work. Essentially the laws surrounding our training have not changed for years, but interpretations have and more to the point the particular laws of Reasonable Force have always been contentious, but since the Tony Martin case have become more so.

Delegates often mix up their moral and personal feelings over the law with the law itself and we must be crystal clear as to where the law draws the line – particularly in the age of malicious prosecution.

As a member of Cheshire Police Authority I am able to keep up to date with daily changes in Police and Home Office thinking and interpretation.

How do you keep courses relevant and up to date?
In relation to Conflict Management we study latest thinking in Neuro Linguistic Programming and psychology.

At present we are studying the way that the brain reacts to sound – ever wonder why we react more to the sound of a phone ringing? – even if someone is in front of you and talking you will interrupt them and take the telephone call as a priority.

In regard to Breakaway we regularly get together and ‘fight’ – not literally but we look at common forms of attack as well as the more unusual ones and study how the attack is made. Then we study the defence!