Discussion on welfare support ‘long overdue’

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The policing and fire minister is set to chair a roundtable on police wellbeing, which will include a number of experts and senior officers.

Chaired by Nick Hurd, the attendees will discuss how the Government can assist police chiefs in their statutory duty to manage the welfare of their officers.

National lead on wellbeing Chief Constable Andy Rhodes will attend the event on Tuesday (January 16), along with experts from Public Heath England, the Police Federation of England and Wales and mental health charities.

Metropolitan Police Service Chief Superintendent John Sutherland, who wrote Blue: A Memoir – detailing his struggles with mental health during his 26-year career in policing – will also address the roundtable about his personal experiences.

Mr Hurd said: “Policing can be a very demanding job. Officers have demonstrated extraordinary courage and fortitude in the face of major challenges over the past year, including terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire. I am grateful to them for their tireless work and dedication to duty.

“It is imperative that policing provides excellent support to its officers and staff – which is why I’m keen to listen to those with the most experience on how to do this best.

“The Government takes the issue of police welfare very seriously, and this event will provide an opportunity to review progress so far and put plans in place for the future.”

In July 2017, Home Secretary Amber Rudd awarded £7.5 million over three years from the Police Transformation Fund to pilot a dedicated national service to enhance mental health advice and welfare support in the police service.

If the trial is successful, it will be rolled out to all 43 forces between 2018 and 2020.

Mr Rhodes and Dr Ian Hesketh from the College of Policing have also led the design of the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework – the first ever sector-specific self-assessment management tool.

And £7 million has been granted to Mind since 2014 – a charity that has funded support and programmes for emergency service workers – from the LIBOR fines imposed on banks.

The PFEW vice chair will represent frontline officers at the event. Ché Donald, who is also the PFEW lead on mental health and wellbeing for officers, said the discussion should have taken place earlier.

Mental health issues for serving officers is an increasing concern for the Federation and the service overall,” he explained. “Resilience in the service is at an all-time low and officers are being put under inordinate amounts of pressure which is taking its toll on their health and wellbeing.

“The unprecedented cuts to the police service have meant that officers are under more strain now than ever before as officers are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources and it has been inevitable that the increased pressures they’re facing have had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

“While we welcome the event, it is long overdue. More needs to be done to tackle mental health issues across the board. Our own Police Federation survey of 17,000 officers in 2016 showed an alarming set of statistics around mental health of officers, with 39 per cent seeking help with mental health issues – that cannot be right and chiefs and the Government have to make a commitment to support officers in dire straits.”

Mr Rhodes added: “Our police officers and staff work in a physically and emotionally demanding environment, putting their bodies and their minds on the line 24/7 to keep us safe.

“This roundtable sends out a clear message that we are relentless in our commitment to provide the world-class welfare support police need to deliver a high quality service for the public.

“The event brings together experts and national leads to review progress and agree priorities for the future, including significant investment from the Police Transformation Fund. This investment will enable us to accelerate our efforts and significantly step up our activity over the coming years.”


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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

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