the orbit team
What defines the ORBIT team is an unwavering commitment to focus, study, and support real-world problems as they are experienced by those who face them in the real world.
Through our collaborations with practitioners, and unique access to training and data, we are able to conduct high quality rigorous research that has made a difference to practitioners ‘at the coal face’ and then transfer this knowledge into training.
Prof. laurence alison
ORBIT Creator & Lead Trainer
Professor Alison MBE, focuses on high profile critical and major incidents (from disaster management to terrorism). He has over 30 years of experience working on applied projects for Law enforcement and the security services.
He currently provides training to FBI/CIA/DoD, The UKs National CT interviewing cadre and the British Army in the ORBIT framework for rapport-based interrogation methods.
He was key psychological advisor on over 450 critical and major incidents debriefs including the 7/7 bombings, the Sharm El Sheik attacks, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the preparations for the London Olympics.
He was key advisor and research on a child sexual exploitation project that resulted in the largest operation in UK police history and which, across a 6-month period, led to the arrest of over 1,200 offenders, the safeguarding of over 1,000 children and a cost saving to UK government of £15million. He has over 200 published articles, books, edited books and government and industry reports.
He was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2020 for services to critical incident handling and to the NHS during COVID-19.
ORBIT Creator & Lead Trainer
Emily Alison has worked as a behavioural consultant psychologist for the last 20 years, providing treatment in both the criminal justice sector and in the community.
She specialises in the assessment and treatment of violence and has worked with over 850 domestic violence perpetrators and designed therapeutic interventions for Domestic Abuse, Child to Parent Violence, Healthy Relationships for Children and Young People, Sexually Harmful Behaviour and Sexual Risk Taking in Adolescents, and Gang and Weapon linked offending.
For the last 10 years she has been involved in the development of the Preventing Violent Extremism Tool for profiling potential extremism and the ORBIT framework for Advanced High Value Detainee Interviewing. She has observed over 500 hours of UK police interviews with terrorists, covering a range of ideologies including Paramilitary, Al Qaeda, Right-wing, and ISIS.
Emily has provided training to a wide range of organisations including the FBI/CIA/DoD, The UKs National Counter Terrorism interviewing cadre and the British Army in the ORBIT framework for rapport-based interrogation methods.
ORBIT Researcher & Lead Trainer
Frances Surmon-Böhr (PhD) is a research associate at the University of Liverpool and a consultant psychologist at Protagoras Forensic Services Ltd.
Her PhD, supervised by Prof. Laurence Alison, examined rapport-based interviewing approaches with High Value Suspects. She has worked on numerous research projects funded by U.K. Ministry of Defense and the U.S. High Value Detainee Interrogation Group where she was involved in the design, development, analysis, and write-up of research projects relating the application of ORBIT in various interviewing/ interrogation contexts.
As part of this work, she has observed and coded hundreds of hours of interviews with terrorist suspects, covering a range of ideologies including Al Qaeda, Extreme Right-Wing, and ISIS.
Frances has provided training in ORBIT to a wide range of organisations including the FBI/CIA/DoD, The UKs National Counter Terrorism interviewing cadre and the British Army in the ORBIT framework for rapport-based interrogation methods.
Frances has presented at Humanitarian, Human Rights and Law Enforcement and Security Conferences internationally.
Neil Shortland (PhD) is the Director for the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Neil has worked in a series of applied roles in both the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense and Police. For his experimental research on military and police decision-making he was the first ever international recipient of the American Psychological Associations’ (APA) Research Award.
Neil's work on decision-making and security has been funded by the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Department of Defense Minerva Initiative, and the National Institute of Justice for his work on countering-violent extremism. He was also recently awarded the National Science Foundation's CAREER award. CAREER funding is the most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty.
Michael Humann (PhD) designs, develops and delivers training using immersive simulated learning environments, aimed at improving critical incident decision making and developing expertise in policing and emergency response. He has developed various evaluation frameworks for a number of large-scale exercises to capture performance.
He is the educational director on the Pan-European Football Policing Training Project (PE-FPTP), designing and delivering training to police forces and partners across Europe within the context of international football matches and other sports events since 2012. As part of this, he was involved in preparations for the EURO 2020 as part of the EPIC (Event Policing & Internal Cooperation) Project and provides ongoing training. He also recently drafted the Handbook on International Police Cooperation, as part of Interpol's Project Stadia, in preparation for FIFA's World Cup Qatar 2022 and beyond.
Our team partners with leading practitioners in the fields of policing, defense, government and critical incident management to ensure our research, products and training remain true to the operating realities.
Jim recently retired as a Superintendent with the Ontario Provincial Police. Much of his 35 year career was dedicated to the investigation and management of complex violent and serial crimes.
In addition to successfully managing hundreds of complex investigations, Jim was certified by the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship (ICIAF) as a criminal profiler. The ICIAF is an elite group of law enforcement professionals that include the FBI and several national and state police agencies that are called upon to provide support in the most challenging investigations. He was also certified as a forensic interviewer through the Canadian Police College.
Jim's passion in policing has been to refine and improve the process of forensic interviewing. His accomplishments in high profile investigations have earned him international recognition as an expert is rapport based, modern interview approaches.
He has spent much of the past twenty years providing support, innovative training and guidance to law enforcement agencies around the world. Examples of his interviews are routinely used in police academies, law schools and university programs to demonstrate how rapport based approaches to high stakes interviews can yield reliable, court admissible results without using outdated and unreliable coercive techniques.
For the last five years of his police career, Jim was the Superintendent, Director of Operations for the OPP’s Central Region, overseeing approximately one thousand uniform, crime unit, traffic, marine, and emergency response team personnel.
Jim's accomplishments in the area of forensic interviewing have earned him six OPP Accolade Awards, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and he was inducted into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Canada's Governor General.
Jonathan is a former detective with 30 years' policing experience and is a specialist suspect interviewer and strategic interview advisor. He investigated a wide range of serious and organised crime including vice, robbery, burglary, sexual and violent offences. From 2006, he managed a team of detectives within the UK's National Counter Terrorism Network, and was involved in the investigation and interviewing of suspects and witnesses in some of the most severe terrorist plots to affect the UK, including the murders of MP Jo Cox, Fusileer Lee Rigby, and the Manchester Arena bombing.
In 2010, Jonathan led the redesign and development of the UK's National Advanced Counter-Terrorist Interviewing Course (Operation Alcyone) in partnership with the University of Liverpool. This brought it in line with cutting edge world renowned research.
Jonathan holds a unique and unprecedented collaborative relationship with academic partners, and has devised real-time evidence based-solutions to the interviewing challenges faced on the front line. Attendance on Alcyone is sought by US colleagues from the FBI, CIA and the Department of Defence. Jonathan has also assisted with the delivery of the US Federal Government's High Value Interrogation Group (HIG) Core Course in Washington DC. The training is based on a wealth of experience dealing with difficult, challenging suspects and use of techniques supported by the most current academic research on ethical effective interviewing, which is encompassed in the ORBIT model.
He has developed, designed and delivered interview training courses both nationally and internationally, including basic PEACE, Ports Officers Enhanced Interview Skills, Specialist Suspect, and Interview Advisor.
Jonathan is currently working in partnership with the United Nations designing interview training to assist the Afghan National Police to become more ethical and human rights compliant.
Dan is a highly experienced and operationally competent Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Officer. His last role was as Chief Officer/Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade having previously served for 7 years as the Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. Dan has extensive operational leadership experience around critical incident decision making having been the Fire and Rescue Service Incident Commander at a number of major incidents.
Dan was the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Operations Coordination Committee, the strategic lead officer for National Resilience and capability lead officer for Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and the UK International Search and Rescue Team (UK ISAR).
Dan was awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal (QFSM) in the Queens New Year’s Honours List 2015 for service to the Fire and Rescue Service.
Prior to joining the FRS Dan was a soldier in the Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment from which he was discharged with an Exemplary Service Record.
Characters Drama Based Learning Ltd is a well established role play/skills practice company with 26 years of experience.
Our clients include the Police Service (UK), National Crime Agency, NHS, The Priory, HM Prison Service, International Criminal Court (The Hague), Rail Accident Investigation Branch, DWP, Trading Standards, Border Force, Marine Management Organisation, Social Care (UK). These clients all use investigative interviewing techniques which is Characters' USP.
Our cornerstone is a realistic and convincing portrayal of people and their behaviours that moves the learning experience beyond a training room exercise to a real-as-life encounter.
We have the knowledge and ability to play vulnerable/intimidated witnesses & suspects on T2, T3 & T5 for the Police & NCA including Counter Terrorism & People Trafficking.
Characters’ professional role actors are carefully selected through an audition & interview process led by company director, Catherine Hamilton.
She looks for emotionally intelligent professional actors who understand the difference between a role exercise and an acting performance. They must be brave, flexible and organised.They must also have the ability to portray every high emotion in an authentic way whilst retaining inner control and professional boundaries.
During debrief sessions, we offer our feedback from a ‘how we, as the character, were made to feel’ perspective rather than telling your professionals how to do their job. We fully recognise that that is not our place.
For more info including two interviews with Catherine Hamilton & Eddie Mair (Radio 4), please visit the website - www.characters.uk.com.