Hands-On Policy: How to Protect Staff & Your Business in Confrontational Situations

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With assaults increasing towards customer-facing staff, how well are your staff trained to deal with a confrontational situation?  

When emotions and blood get high, it can be easy for anyone to make a mistake, get physical and increase the risk of harm to themselves or others, and to cost the business. In this article, we explore hands-on policies and their benefits for customer-facing teams and organisations.

What is a 'Hands-On Policy'?

A hands-on policy, set by a company, details the parameters that a company is directing its staff to work within. This can be for security personnel and/or all staff in public-facing positions such as on the rail networks.  It provides a structured set of guidelines and procedures that draws upon the law and is aimed at equipping staff with the necessary tools to manage confrontational situations effectively. Its foremost goal is to keep staff safe and to guide them to deliver proactive engagement that focuses on techniques for de-escalating situations. Use of physical intervention should only be as a last resort to ensure the safety of customers and employees. Understanding the law surrounding use of force and self-defence is key to a successful policy.

The Risks of Neglecting a Hands-On Policy

Without a clear hands-on policy, adequate preparation and training, confrontational situations can quickly spiral out of control and put your staff and customers at risk, leading to physical harm, property damage, legal repercussions and financial and reputational risk.

The cost of litigation resulting from incidents (either from the public, or from staff) can be exorbitant, with settlements, legal fees, and compensation payouts posing a significant financial burden on organisations.

Alongside the costs, the lack of a hands-on policy or the mismanagement of conflict situations can erode customer and staff trust and ultimately deter customers from returning, impacting revenue.  Similarly, a perceived lack of safety can make it harder to recruit new employees.

During the 22/23 period, 475,000 incidents of abuse were logged of which there were 1300+ violent incidents a day (up 870 from the previous year) with 8800 resulting in injury. 

The British Retail Consortium - Crime Survey 2024

Legislative Framework & Employee Rights

In the UK, legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Equality Act 2010, citizens powers and any local byelaws may impose legal obligations on employers and employees to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff and the requirement of staff to act within the law. However, confrontational situations can be complex and require a clear understanding of permissible actions and legal boundaries. In fact, in some businesses, the policy might be to be completely ‘hands-off’.

What a Hands-On Policy Covers

The content of a policy will differ from company to company and will depend on the legal framework that the company works within, conditions of entry and carriage, powers that staff may have as a result of the environment they work in, the role they perform, or that has been agreed with the local Chief Constable as a part of the CSAS scheme.  If you require any assistance on this, Top 2 Percent will happily talk through options and approaches.

How Hands-On Training Helps Your Staff

For businesses and public organisations keen to safeguard their interests and to keep their employees safe, designing a clear hands-on policy is the first step.  The second is implementing training to ensure that every member of staff has the knowledge they need to be confident and safe in their roles.

Staff training should cover the policy as well as equip teams with conflict resolution skills such as understanding behaviour, communication techniques, de-escalation tactics.  Additionally physical intervention training ensures that staff can intervene safely and responsibly when faced with imminent threats or violence. When staff are empowered, morale goes up helping you support their mental wellbeing and reduce staff turnover.

With their teams equipped with the skills and confidence to manage confrontational situations, businesses are also able to reduce their number of serious incidents that impact on operations and staff and therefore minimise the risk of legal liabilities and costs. 

Being Prepared Reduces Risk

However your Hands-On Policy is defined in your business, clear procedures, guidelines and training will enable your employees to do their jobs and keep them safe but also to protect your business from financial and reputational costs.  As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure.

Top 2 Percent is a specialist operations and security training provider.  To find out more about how we can help organisations with customer-facing employees, email us here. 


The British Retail Consortium - The Crime Survey 2024


Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash


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