22 February 2022
A consensus statement setting out the police service’s future commitment to suicide prevention has been published.
The consensus, agreed by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), College of Policing (CoP), Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), Home Office, Unison and Police Superintendents Association, acknowledges progress has been made to reduce mental health stigma but recognises organisations must better work together on the important issue.
PFEW’s National Vice Chair Ché Donald, who welcomed the initiative, said: “We all recognise suicide is a major issue within the police service, and many colleagues still cruelly suffer from stigmatisation related to mental health issues.
“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.
“As a staff association, PFEW has always taken a pro-active approach to the issues around mental health support for colleagues. However, we fully recognise there is a lot more we can all do, both as organisations and as individuals involved in policing.
“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 burnout 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.”
The consensus statement was developed by Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS), which worked with the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) to learn from the ambulance service’s approach to suicide prevention and provide guidance for policing.
What will happen now the consensus has been agreed and published?