16 March 2021
To mark the first national Response Policing Wellbeing and Resilience week, Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) National Board member Nick Mosey looks at the importance of officer wellbeing.
“Response police officers deal with some of the most challenging things a human could ever be expected to deal with. Add to that, working long shifts covering 24/7, having rest days cancelled and often working alone. Sadly we are now seeing the effects of that with officers suffering the psychological scars of what they deal with.
“We all joined the job knowing it wasn’t going to be easy. Response police officers are often the first on the scene to everything from murders, to road accidents, to violent people and everything in between. They’re expected to be an expert on all things by the public and those that manage them and when they fall short of this, the criticism can be quite hurtful. This is bound to take its toll on even the most resilient of our colleagues.
“Wellbeing has been an often-used phrase in police stations over the last few years. In my experience it often lacks meaning and consistency. Wellbeing must be meaningful if it’s to deliver tangible benefits to our officers. Good supervisors instinctively know how to get the best from their officers. This means taking an interest and treating them as individuals and knowing what their needs are. I can think of several of my own line managers over the years who knew instinctively how to do this and on the other hand, those who didn’t.
“But it doesn’t just stop at the door of supervision. We all have a personal responsibility to look after ourselves and our colleagues. While we’ve come a long way in recognising mental health as a serious health issue, there’s still a stigma attached that prevents individuals from either acknowledging their own mental health issue or talking openly with others. We must get better at supporting each other and sharing our experiences.
“There are a lot of support mechanisms out there to assist when we need help – your local federation branch can help with that. What I’d like to see is that we deal with these issues before intervention is needed and this can only be achieved if we’re more willing to talk and listen to each other and show some genuine kindness and empathy towards each other. I’m pleased to see that the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has recognised response policing as an area that needs focus. It’s good to see it is engaging with practitioners and asking them what they want to see.
“There have been a number of studies of late that tell us our officers are tired. No surprises there, given the attritional nature of what it is frontline officers do. My plea is that it’s now time for the decision makers to put some tangible solutions in place that can make a real difference to the wellbeing of our members. We need to put our officers first, before demand, before performance. They need to be given the appropriate rest breaks within and in between their tours of duty. We need to be more proactive in identifying how many traumatic incidents individual officers are attending and putting appropriate interventions in place when this is flagged. We need to be conscious of lone working and the effects this can have on officers who are single crewed for long periods of time given all the issues discussed in this blog.
"As a service, we can tackle these issues, just like we do with everything else that is thrown at us. Everyone has a part to play and we must do this together”.
You can find more information about the Week of Action, including links to useful webinars on Oscar Kilo’s website.