An Exploratory Mixed-Methodological Analysis of Police Hostage and Crisis Negotiation in the United Kingdom

  • Amy Grubb

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Hostage and crisis negotiators are police officers who have been trained to respond to and resolve hostage and crisis incidents. They are often required to respond to highly-pressurisedand emotive incidents that may lastfor protracted periods of time and are likely to encounter situations whereby their actions could play a role in whether individualslive or die.The first aim of the current thesis was to identify whether negotiators in the United Kingdom(UK) possess certain traits or characteristics that serve to enable them to perform their role effectively and differentiate them from the wider police population. The first phase of the research involved a quantitative cross-sectional comparison of a sample of hostageand crisis negotiators (n= 117) with a sample of non-negotiator police officers (n= 118) from 21 UK forces and a sample of students (n= 203) utilising a psychometric test battery measuring five constructs previously identified within the literature as playing a role in success within occupational settings: Personality, Coping Style, Cognitive Emotion Regulation, Decision-Making Style and Emotional Intelligence. The findings refuted the existence of a “unique hostage and crisis negotiator profile” but confirmed the existence of a unique “police officer profile” by demonstrating significant differences between both police samples and the student sample in relation to all constructs measured. These findings are discussed with reference to the implications for the selection, training and CPD of UK negotiators.

Hostage and crisis negotiation is one of many options available to police incident commanders and is well-established as an effective means of resolving hostage and crisis incidents. Whilst there is a plethora of published literature relating to the entity of hostage and crisis negotiation, the majority of this literature has been developed within the United States of America(USA), on the basis of USA negotiator deployments and experiences. The second aim, therefore, was to provide an insight into the discipline of negotiation in the UK by conducting a constructivist grounded theory analysis of the experiences of negotiators as derived from semi-structured interviews with 15 negotiators from nine UK police forces. The findings allowed for the development of five grounded theoretical micro-models: a) The Nature and Characteristics of UK Hostage and Crisis Negotiation, b) The UK Hostage and Crisis Negotiator Journey, c) The UK-Centric D.I.A.M.O.N.D. Procedural Model of Hostage and Crisis Negotiation, d)The UK Hostage and Crisis Negotiator Experience, and e) The Self-Perceived Successful UK Hostage and Crisis Negotiator Profile. These micro-models are discussed with reference to their implications for hostage and crisis negotiation policy and practice in a UK-centric context.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorSarah Brown (Supervisor), Peter Hall (Supervisor), Barry Mitchell (Supervisor) & Erica Bowen (Supervisor)

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