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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Capture Data On Traumatic Incidents

15 September 2021

“By capturing the data associated with attending traumatic incidents, the force would identify officers who may struggle, and offer the necessary support.”

This is the opinion of Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair Iain Prideaux, who said the force should collect figures on the number of traumatic incidents police officers attend.

Last week the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW)’s Wellbeing Lead, Hayley Aley, spoke at the Emergency Services Show and pointed out that forces currently do not hold any records about the number of traumatic incidents an officer has attended while on duty.

Iain (pictured) said this was important for the early identification and prevention of mental health issues.

He continued: “During their careers, each police officer is likely to encounter between 400 to 600 traumatic events. Most citizens will experience between three or four in their lifetime.

“Nationally, nearly 10,000 police officers took time off due to stress, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in the past year. PFEW’s January 2021 Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey revealed that almost 80% of officers said they have struggled with their mental health and wellbeing over the past 12 months.

“Avon and Somerset Police does have the 7-point plan for officers who are assaulted or victims of hate crime; it creates welfare information reports; offers TRiM for those affected by critical incidents; and has Health Assured for counselling. But I wonder about the long-term effects of the repeated exposure to traumatic events.

“By capturing the data associated with attending traumatic incidents, the force would identify the officers who may struggle in the near- or medium-term, and offer the necessary support.

“Stress, depression, anxiety and PTSD often reveal themselves in underperformance, poor attendance and ill health retirement, which could be hugely mitigated with timely support and intervention.

“We can’t remove attending traumatic incidents, but we can try to alleviate it and make sure we pick up those officers who are struggling to cope. There are internal support networks and occupational health services that officers can access, as well as the Federation’s Welfare Support Programme.”

Mind’s Blue Light Programme (www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/blue-light-programme/) has a range of information and advice for officers who were suffering with their wellbeing, Iain said, and he recommended taking the Stress Management Society’s free Individual Stress Test here: www.stress.org.uk/individual-stress-test/

He added that any officer who was struggling could speak to their Federation representative or email info.avonsom@polfed.org