24 February 2022
Derbyshire Police Federation secretary Kirsty Bunn has welcomed the publication of a statement setting out the police service’s future commitment to suicide prevention.
The consensus statement was developed by Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, which worked with the UK Health Security Agency to learn from the ambulance service’s approach to suicide prevention and provide guidance for policing.
It has been agreed by the Police Federation, National Police Chiefs’ Council, College of Policing, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Home Office, UNISON and Police Superintendents’ Association and acknowledges progress has been made to reduce mental health stigma but recognises organisations must better work together on the important issue.
Kirsty said: “We have always recognised suicide as a major issue in policing and take the mental health of our members extremely seriously.
“We encourage our members to seek help the minute they feel they are struggling but acknowledge that many colleagues still worry about stigmatisation related to mental health issues.
“There is no doubt that attitudes and awareness of mental health have improved in recent years but we accept there is still much work to do.
“So we welcome the publication of this consensus statement as a very important step in the right direction and look forward to seeing further initiatives in the future.”
A number of key steps are already being taken after the publication of the statement.
The officer and staff safety review proposal to improve the way data is recorded on police officer and staff death, serious injury and suicide has also been agreed and will now be progressed.
In addition, a toolkit funded and commissioned by the National Police Wellbeing Service working closely with the Samaritans will be made available to all forces in the spring and will also be accessible via the Oscar Kilo website.
Police Federation national vice-chair Ché Donald said: “While the national consensus statement represents a welcome first step in helping to tackle this issue, it’s only the beginning of a more collective approach which we hope will pay dividends in the longer run.
“Our combined aim is to break down the many existing barriers to help-seeking. Only by working together within the service can we help to transform attitudes, and increase the confidence of those who might otherwise shun the existing support services available for depression and mental illness.
“This means confining some attitudes and language to the past, ensuring colleagues are protected from burn-out because of work demands, and providing effective health screening and better support for those in high stress roles.
“It’s crucial the service offers the very best care to colleagues and their family members, and that lessons are learnt from every single tragedy, so others don’t similarly suffer in the future.”