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2 November 2020
Roads Policing Lead, Gemma Fox talks of the trauma experienced and why we must support each other.
The demands on this critical policing discipline and the toll it can take on officers’ mental health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated. I am really pleased that the month of November gives recognition to roads policing and family liaison officers, with a focus on their wellbeing. These officers perform a role which is extremely demanding - they go about this every day with professionalism and a genuine sense of commitment to the role, showing true dedication, passion and duty to the job at hand.
Roads policing officers deal with some of the most heart-breaking and horrific incidents we face in policing and it is imperative that we acknowledge and understand the personal impact this can have on colleagues.
Trauma can affect us all and we need to create a culture that encourages officers to be open and honest about how they feel, recognising when they find something difficult. There is no shame in that.
This month’s focus on mental health is timely as we enter the challenging winter period and with no real idea of how and when we will come out of the second national lockdown. During the month we will share personal experiences, statistics, research, updates on what The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is doing for officers and signpost to sources of support.
PFEW's current campaign Hear 'Man Up', Think 'Man Down’ will feature prominently as it seeks to encourage officers to reach out when times get tough.
Leading on the campaign is my National Board colleague and Secretary of PFEW’s Wellbeing Sub-Committee, Belinda Goodwin, who is also a serving Metropolitan police officer. All too often Belinda heard colleagues saying to each other “man up and get on with it” or “pull yourself together” – not helpful when someone is at their lowest ebb. The main aim of the campaign is to improve on the available support and wellbeing – but it also sets out to change the rhetoric – say something helpful or don’t say it at all.
The drip feed of trauma that we are exposed to daily is immense, and it is incredibly damaging. Roads policing officers are in one of the highest risk categories for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to become an issue. We must do better for these officers in prevention and response.
Hear 'Man Up', Think 'Man Down’ highlights the need for colleagues to take more notice of each other and recognise if someone is struggling - talking is the starting point, and we cannot shy away from that anymore.
We are sharing a lot of information this month and I extend my thanks to those who have come forward to share their stories and support a cause which is very close to our hearts.
I am proud to represent roads policing on behalf of PFEW and I hope that you can join me this month by sharing the support which is available and starting a conversation with each other.
Roads Policing Lead, PFEW
To continue to make a change for the better we need to evidence the demand, capacity and welfare issues within policing. If you haven’t yet managed to take part, our survey is open until Sunday 15 November. Please contact your local Federation to access the survey link.