Our Breakaway and Restraint Training with the Scottish Prison Service College

November 25, 2015


The Prison Service was reviewing their officer safety (breakaway and self-defence) syllabus, having been prompted by a number of recent officer safety incidents in which it was found that the system being taught to prison staff and visitors was not 100% fit for purpose.

Who engaged Dynamis:  

We were engaged by a Risk Manager on behalf of the Prison Service to carry out a series of demonstrations and presentations about modern methods of self-protection and breakaway or officer safety training which were informed by sports-science and evidence from research.

Our initial analysis:

The system of training in self-defence and officer safety in use within this service was based on a 40-year old model of training which was itself initially based on the training paradigm in traditional martial arts.   Key issues were the amount of time available to teach techniques of self-defence to staff and the number of different ‘moves’ thought necessary to adequately prepare a person to defend themselves.

Why Dynamis was asked to help:

Dynamis has, since our inception as a training provider, sought out the most modern and dependable methods of officer safety and breakaway or personal protection training available in the world.   Our reputation for providing realistic, operationally relevant and evidence-based methods which are robust under real-life conditions for officer safety has steadily grown since 2006 when we first began providing training courses.

Training Delivery:  

This engagement consisted of a series of meetings and presentations to the Risk Managers in charge of training development and the Senior Control & Restraint Instructor team at the training headquarters for the prison service.   At these meetings a great deal of modern training methodology and design concepts were presented, which stimulated discussions within that team about what kind of changes where required within their system and how to achieve it.   Further to this Dynamis was asked to provide an instructor ‘masterclass’ in which the service’s senior instructors could go ‘hands-on’ with the methodology to get a feel for how a modern system of training is imparted to learners in a brief time-period but with high levels of retained skill.


A group of more than 20 senior instructors gathered at the training HQ to receive our masterclass and the feedback on the day was exceptionally positive.   Many of the instructors commented that the methodology shown would result in time savings for them, easier assimilation of the material and increased retention for their students.

Subsequent to this programme of education, the prison service sent a number of their top staff to our NFPS/BTEC Advanced Self Defence Instructor certification course.   Their remit was to return the full body of information to the service in order to review and re-format the self-defence training syllabus.   Many changes were subsequently made to the training of self-defence tactics to officers and staff.

Here is a video showcase on Vimeo about our Breakaway Training:


Team Dynamis Ltd. is the UK representative for Vistelar Conflict Management Training since 2014.

To learn how your organisation can benefit from this modern, evidence-based approach to learning how to professionally manage conflict, please visit: www.dynamis.training/vistelar to learn more.

Train-the-Trainer opportunities (for example Maximising training Effectiveness -> www.dynamis.training/mte) may be coming up in the near future which would allow you and your organisation to bring these leading Conflict Management, Crisis Intervention and Personal Safety concepts and practices into your organisation.

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Gerard O'Dea is the Director of Training for Dynamis. Training Advisor, Speaker, Author and Expert Witness on Personal Safety, Conflict Management and Physical Interventions, he is the European Advisor for Vistelar Conflict Management, a global programme focussing on the spectrum of human conflict.

Gerard O'Dea

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