Leicestershire  Police Federation

We Need To Support Officers Before They Reach Breaking Point

17 September 2021


We Need To Support Officers Before They Reach Breaking Point


Forces need to collect data on the number of traumatic incidents police officers attend so they can provide support before officers reach breaking point, Leicestershire Police Federation has said.

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. She said collecting this data would help identify officers at risk of mental health problems.

Leicestershire Police Federation Chair Adam Commons agreed, saying: “In principle this is an excellent idea, and I feel that forces need to find a way of monitoring the traumatic incidents that our members attend so that support could be offered before they reach breaking point.

“All too often, we only become aware of members who are struggling when they become unwell due to their experiences, whereas if we knew about it earlier more could be done to provide support and prevent it from ever reaching that stage.”

But Adam sounded a note of caution about the practicalities of collecting such data, saying: “Gathering this data may be difficult, as what is traumatic for one officer may not be for another. We are all individuals and deal with trauma in different ways. It would rely on good supervision, with line managers recognising the effect that an incident has on their officers, as well as our members being open with how they have been affected.

“Unfortunately we can’t prevent officers from seeing things they may find traumatic, but there are things that can be done to prevent long-term psychological impact, and part of this is understanding the scale of the problem so that resources can be allocated to providing support. Officers also need to feel comfortable and supported enough to say that they are struggling, rather than trying to ‘tough it out’.”

Leicestershire Police Federation has a scheme to support officers who have been assaulted and offer them the small gesture of a voucher, which Adam said had received good feedback. But he added: “This relies on data being put onto the systems, but there is currently no such data surrounding traumatic incidents. I would welcome any efforts to record this, so that the force and Federation can ensure things are put in place to support officers when they need it.”

The force also offered excellent TRiM support following critical incidents, Adam said, adding that officers can also access practical support and counselling via the Federation’s Welfare Support Programme, the Leicestershire Police Federation Medical Scheme and the Group Insurance Scheme.

He urged members who were struggling with mental health problems not to hesitate to seek help from the force or Federation.