Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An Organisational and Task Analysis to Inform Police Physical Education and Defensive Tactics Training

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posted on 2021-11-15, 07:13 authored by Simpson, Bradley K

"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”. Sun Tzu.

In the preparation for front-line policing, the teaching of Physical Education and Defensive Tactics (PE and DT) should integrate a number of tactics and techniques, and focus on operationally relevant scenario training. This study used a mixed-method approach (comprising of interviews, observations, focus groups, and a questionnaire), and involved 350 police officers and staff in New Zealand. It sought to identify the critical PE and DT related tasks front-line officers complete, to allow for an evidence based approach to informing the design and development of the training curriculum. The study identified two major topics that it was commonly considered should be part of the PE and DT curriculum: (1) empty-hand techniques and appointments (equipment); and (2) ceremonial (military drill), physical conditioning, and crowd control training. A number of underpinning principles also emerged as being important: the need for self-awareness, confidence, contributing to team effectiveness, and expecting the unexpected. Officers identified situations involving non-compliant and violent people to be the most critical to be trained for, with a focus on easily transferred and effective restraint and self-defence techniques and tactics. Tasks that were judged easy to learn (such as pepper spraying dogs) were deemed to be the least critical tasks to include in the curriculum. Analysis of data related to difficulty, importance, and frequency responses by various officer demographics, showed that those policing in the most rural locations reported using force and communications on non-compliant people less often than other officers.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education Policy and Implementation


Gordon, Barrie; Johns, Michael