9 February 2019
The two Derbyshire Police officers who attended this year’s Police Federation roads policing conference have praised the Federation for its efforts to improve officer welfare and ensure that legislation is in place to protect police officers.
PC Adrian Hardwick and Detective Inspector Dave Neate, who are both Federation workplace representatives, said there were many highlights during an ‘excellent’ two-day conference but were particularly full of praise for two Staffordshire Police officers who talked about their experience of being involved in Post-Incident Procedures (PIP) following a pursuit that ended badly.
Dave explained: “Their presentation included video footage and they recounted the incident chronologically which gave the audience a true feeling of being involved. As a manager, some of the things they said really made me think about how I would act in the same situation. It was an emotionally impactive presentation but with a very positive outcome and view of the PIP process.
“The officers spoke from two differing perspectives, one who was aware of the PIP and one who was not. They explained how they felt at each stage and how the words used by people involved in the process and by managers either increased or decreased their levels of anxiety. However, having gone through the process, they are both confident that it helped them to provide the best possible evidence and that they were still able, with the support from their organisation, to remain at work and are both back doing the job they love. They spoke highly of the support the Police Federation gave.
“I came away having learned how the words I use as a manager can affect the staff I am dealing with in a profound way during times of stress and worry. I also realised that the role of the Federation rep is vital in, not only protecting the interest of the member legally, but also their welfare.”
The theme of the conference, which was held at The Jurys Inn, Hinckley, Leicestershire, was awareness of officer fatigue, stress and PTSD. Presentations by Dr Paul Jackson, a chartered psychologist in the Transport Safety and Behaviour Group at TRL, and Federation vice-chair Ché Donald discussed these issues. One area in particular is that of repeated trauma and how the mind requires time to process, store and deal with the distressing situations officers deal with on a daily, if not hourly, during the working day.
“Even more shocking was how this exposure to trauma can lead to PTSD or SPTSD,” says Adrian.
But Dave said he felt reassured that many of the welfare concerns discussed during the conference have already been addressed by Derbyshire Constabulary.
“We have significant support for our staff and supervisors and managers are trained and given advice on how to help staff. We can always improve, but I think we are in a good place compared to other forces,” he said, though he would still be taking back to Force the message that the welfare of its staff is vital and it must ensure that they have the correct training, equipment and time to perform their role.
Adrian highlighted that presentations during the conference made it clear that, despite the Federation’s best efforts, there had been further delays with proposed changes to legislation to give better legal protection to police drivers.
“We are told there is support for the change and this is supported by the Department for Transport but it remains with MPs,” Adrian adds.
Dave is frustrated about the delay, saying: “I have concerns about the lack of legislative support for my staff who are called upon to pursue high-risk road users. The public, the Government and the police service asks them to take risks and to do a difficult job every day, yet there is no defence in law to rely on when using TPAC tactics. It was good to hear that the courts and CPS rarely seek to prosecute our officers and that progress is being made to get the legislation through Parliament.”
Adrian also explained that there is a new system being introduced called CRaSH which will be a standalone database to record RTCs. The software has been created with the Department for Transport and will revolutionise the recording of road accidents. The database, which looks simple to use, will soon be linked to Niche and does not allow an officer to miss anything.
Adrian explains: “From a photograph at the scene, it will tell you where you are, the correct northings and eastings and will also fill in the details of the local authority. The database will be linked to other agencies such as NIB, DVLA to name a few and will provide all the accident details direct to local authorities without delay. Derbyshire Police are in talks at the moment but, there is a big push from the Department for Transport for all 43 forces to have the same database. it is also free and software updates will also be free.”
Dave has been a police officer for more than 18 years, seven years as a PC on South Division on response, Crime Action Groups and CID, nine years as a sergeant on both response and CID and just over two years as an inspector. He became the roads policing inspector in January this year.