Ensuring the validity of police use of force training

Document Type

Journal Article



Place of Publication

United Kingdom


Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change


Originally published as: Rajakaruma, N,. Henry, P. J., Cutler, A., & Fairman, G. (2017). Ensuring the validity of police use of force training. Police Practice and Research, 18(5), 507-521. Available here.


This research examined the skills and abilities required of officers to effectively manage situations where the use of force may be required. The research also considered the nature of training required to facilitate the development of these skills/abilities. Seventy Western Australia Police officers participated in focus groups. Identified skills/abilities fell into seven categories: Aware, Assess, Approach, Act, Automatic, Appraise and Adapt. With regard to developing proficiency in these skills, officers emphasised the importance of relevant, applied and dynamic training, debriefing and the use of scenarios/role plays. The research highlights the need to change the scope of annual refresher training from the appropriate and effective application of force to the effective management of situations in which the use of force may be required, in their entirety. Findings also highlight the need to change the focus of training from performance and assessment to continued skill development (i.e. practice and learning).