Police Federation

Blog: Time to go Back to Basics and look after yourself

23 June 2021

Steve Hartshorn, PFEW National Board Lead for Operational Policing

In a new blog for World Wellbeing Week, PFEW National Board Lead for Operational Policing, Steve Hartshorn, shares why the Federation is urging you to go Back to Basics with your body armour.

“We get it; we’ve all been there. You’ve dealt with a job and you’re back in the car or at the station and you don’t take off your body armour. Maybe it seems a waste of time, as you’ll only have to put it on again. Or maybe you just forget that you’re wearing it. But that extra weight you’re carrying for no reason could be wreaking havoc with your back.

“Make no mistake about it, body armour serves a very important function and should absolutely be worn when it’s needed. The problem is wearing it when it’s not needed. The human skeleton isn’t built to carry around this amount of weight long-term and it could contribute to significant health issues.

“If you look at vehicle seat design and office seating, they aren’t designed for body armour, or prolonged periods of being sat in by officers wearing body armour.

“The Federation’s Wellbeing Sub-Committee set up a body armour working group to look more closely at these issues. We found that not only were there problems with the weight of the plates used, but also the weight caused by what officers are carrying on their person, e.g. mobile units and kit.

“The group established that officers from across England and Wales are being referred to treatment centres with back, shoulder and neck pain, which could be caused by wearing body armour. The centres have created specialist classes to teach core and strengthening exercises to protect members’ backs – something your Federation is welcoming.

“To help draw attention to these issues, with the help of the specialist centres we’re kickstarting an awareness drive called Back to Basics, focusing on the damage that body armour can potentially cause to the wearer if worn excessively and ways to prevent harm. It really is about going back to basics and looking at what simple tweaks you can make at home or at work to help your back, neck, and shoulders.

“Over the next few months, we will be working with experts from Flint House, North-West Police Treatment Centres (Harrogate and Auchterarder) and the North-West Police Benevolent Fund to share ways to help ease the strain on your muscles and skeleton. They have some useful guides and videos that can help you build core strength and complement any existing training plans. We will also be working with forces to remind them of their responsibility to look after officers’ welfare and encourage good practice around body armour care, storage and checks after being damaged.

“So please do keep an eye on our social media channels for our updates and helpful videos. You can find more information on Back to Basics here "

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