NLP Practitioner Training at West Midlands Police

The NLP Practitioner training was undertaken by a majority of supervisors from one BCU (Basic Command Unit) in order to enhance leadership skills. The results show an impressive improvement not only in leadership within the OCU but also in wider policing skills. In an environment where all time off the job for training has to be carefully prioritised, this can be regarded as a 2-for-the-price-of-1 training programme, where management development also delivers results in core police activities.

Reasons for undertaking the training

The NLP Practitioner training was undertaken as part of the BCU Leadership Development programme. Key success criteria were:

  • Effective team leadership
  • Outcome focus
  • Motivated teams
  • Efficient problem-solving

The Superintendent who commissioned the training had recently qualified as a Practitioner of NLP and saw the possibilities of other benefits from undertaking this training. However, NLP has a very wide field of application and at that stage it was impossible to predict other benefits.

Method of delivery

The programme was delivered in four 4-day modules, one per month from November 2001 to February 2002. Between modules participants completed project work. This encouraged application of NLP principles and techniques to everyday working situations.

11 of the participants were BCU staff and they represented a mixture of ranks and roles:

7 x Sergeants – Custody Officer, Beat Managers, CSB Sergeants
2 x Constables – a Detective and a Tutor Constable/Microbeat Officer
1 x Sector Inspector
1 x BCU Personnel Officer

The remaining two members of the group were a Chief Inspector from the central training service, who joined the group largely to evaluate the training, and a Superintendent from another division.

Why Brilliant Minds?

The principal trainer at Brilliant Minds is Dianne Lowther. At the time of this programme she had been practising NLP in a business environment for over 10 years. She has a well-researched theoretical knowledge of the subject as well as a logical and pragmatic approach to applying NLP in everyday working life. Brilliant Minds has an extensive list of clients in both public and private sectors.

As a bonus for this particular training, Brilliant Minds were able to use a trainer’s assistant who has a Police background (as well as being a Practitioner of NLP) and therefore found it easy to relate to the specific interests and requirements of this group.


The assignments completed between modules record countless examples of how the course participants applied the NLP skills in their normal everyday work. Because of the extensive skill-building exercises in the programme, many of the examples recorded are instances where the individual experienced unconscious competence in the skills and only afterwards noticed what they had done to achieve the results. The results can be shown in a number of different areas but these are by no means exhaustive:

Leadership Skills

Delegates reported that they used NLP to achieve:

  • Clearly identified outcomes from operational briefings
  • Shared understanding of objectives
  • More productive PDR interviews
  • Improved relationships with team members
  • Changing entrenched ideas

The Superintendent reports that he noticed ‘a marked improvement in the motivation and results achieved by those teams whose Team Leader attended the course’. This is reflected in improved BCU performance figures.

“Two members of my team were constantly in conflict with each other.  I’d tried everything I could think of and nothing seemed to make any difference.  Then I applied some of the NLP techniques.  Now they get along with each other as well as anyone else in the team.”

Sergeant A

West Midlands Police

Understanding of self

All delegates reported useful self-awareness and hence better self-management ability. They all believed that they had experienced significant personal development through the training and that this enabled them to perform more effectively at work.

Understanding of others

One of the most significant areas of results has been in the improvement of working relationships. Much of this can be traced to the adoption of an attitude (consistent with NLP principles) of curiosity rather than conflict in areas of difference. Here are some quotes from the evaluation:

  • “I have made major changes to my interactions and relationships with people”
  • “As an individual I am now more patient and tolerant of others values and beliefs”
  • “NLP helps me gain a quicker level of trust and support”

These skills can therefore be seen as a valuable support to the Diversity initiative previously introduced.

Policing Skills

Although the formal evaluation of the programme does not investigate benefits beyond the Team Leadership role it was originally directed towards, the project work shows many examples of how NLP skills can be applied directly to police work. Benefits in this area include:

  • Improved questioning techniques
  • Calming of aggressive individuals
  • Quicker, more effective intervention following traumatic incidents
  • Managing state of mind
“I was in duty in the cell block.  The occupant of one of the cells was making a lot of noise – shouting and banging on the door.  I walked down to his cell, talked to him using one of the NLP techniques I’d recently learned and he shut up.  Within minutes he was asleep.  My colleagues were amazed – now they think I’m a witch!”

Sergeant B

West Midlands Police
“Two men had been arrested following a bar fight.  I took statements from each of them in turn and they gave different accounts of the incident.  With the awareness I had gained through learning NLP, I noticed that each was using his memory differently and it was clear which one was telling the truth.  I was later told by the CPS that my observations, recorded during the interviews, had enabled them to prepare an effective prosecution.”

Sergeant C

West Midlands Police

The evaluation report prepared by the Chief Inspector concludes: “There is little doubt that the delegates who attended the NLP Practitioner course have benefited personally and have evidenced that they have been able to apply their new skills in the workplace to the benefit of the organisation”