Sieges, the police, and a psychologist?

Gerard Bailes looks for the reality behind the TV depictions.
Protected only by his designer suit, the police psychologist strolls calmly past the firearms unit, who are crouched behind a brick wall and sweating in heavy body armour. Sharing a joke with them, he stubs out his cigarette and enters the house, now full of petrol fumes and escaping gas. With only seconds to spare, he negotiates the release of the hostage and escapes from the building as it explodes behind him. Psychology wins the day and makes it all look so easy… even with a permanent hangover and chaotic lifestyle. This article aims to give a more realistic perspective on how psychological input can be used in police siege situations. The potential roles of a psychologist are outlined and important issues raised, some of which are also relevant to other aspects of work with the police.

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