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Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Sixth Form students from both the Girls' Division and the Boys'
Division of Bolton School attended a talk aimed at giving them a
better understanding of the negotiation skills needed to cope in a
hostage situation. The talk, given by Chartered Forensic
Psychologist, Mrs Carol Bond, formed part of the girls' Gifted and
Talented Programme, an ongoing Learning Support programme which
aims to enrich the students' learning experience and develop their
The title of the lecture was 'Resolving Hostage Situations:
Talking Your Way Out of a Crisis"; and was a participative lecture
in which students were asked to consider how they would resolve a
number of tense hostage situations within a limited amount of time
- replicating the pressure of a real hostage situation.
Mrs Carol Bond is a Senior Lecturer in BSc Criminological &
Forensic Psychology at the University of Bolton and her talk was
adapted from the Forensic Psychology module that makes up part of
the degree. Mrs Bond used to work for North-West Prisons, training
the hostage negotiators and still spends a lot of time sitting on
Parole Board hearings.
The talk revealed how the hijacking of a coach in 1972 (which
inspired the film "Speed") and the subsequent efforts to diffuse
the situation, set the parameters for future negotiations in
hostage scenarios. Mrs Bond spoke of terrorist hostage situations
such as the Moscow Theatre and, more recently, the Mumbai hotels.
She advised pupils that it can be virtually impossible to resolve a
situation if the hijackers are intending to commit suicide, but
described how there is often room for negotiation in cases such as
robberies that have gone wrong, ransoms, kidnappings in prison or
where a personal crisis has escalated, such as in domestic
situations where wives, children or neighbours are kidnapped.
The students were taught that the key tactics in negotiation
are: containment, in order to bring as much safety as possible to
the situation; isolation, to build the hostage taker's dependence
on the negotiator; negotiation, in order to find a safe resolution;
and playing for time, which will reduce stress levels and bring
more rational thought to the situation.
The presentation was thought-provoking and captured the
imagination of the students. Lucy Nolan, Head Girl, said: "I found
the talk very interesting, Psychology is something that has always
interested me and Mrs Bond was very knowledgeable about negotiation
skills and how to bring a successful conclusion to crisis
Mrs Richards, Headmistress, said: "This was an excellent
presentation from a knowledgeable and dynamic lecturer.
Presentations like this help develop important life-skills and
prepare our students not just for university but for life beyond
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