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New Checklist To Help Officers Identify Trauma Exposure

15 September 2023

One in five police officers who have been affected by trauma are still living with the after-effects, research has shown.

More than 90% of UK police officers have had experiences on the job that have been traumatic, with over 20% still being affected by those incidents to clinical levels of disorder, according to charity Police Care UK.

Everyday trauma exposure is becoming increasingly accepted as part of contemporary policing, yet there are no means of quantifying it, the organisation has warned.

It has now set up what it says is the world’s first Police Traumatic Events Checklist to enable forces to quantify police-specific trauma.

It has now set up what it says is the world’s first Police Traumatic Events Checklist to enable forces to quantify police-specific trauma exposure or trauma impact in a “measured, organised and reliable way”. The final component of the research has been to produce the world’s first evidence-based Police Traumatic Events Checklist to enable UK forces to do just that.

Combining police-specific items that describe incidents and jobs known to be traumatic in the main (such as child fatalities), along with situational components which may compound trauma (such as being first on scene), the checklist can be used by any individuals in any role who want to self-check their exposure.

It will enable officers the opportunity to see in words a reflection of the trauma exposure they are required to process as part of their day job and to enable them to check-in on their resilience and acknowledge the demands and rewards of a job like no other.

Police Care UK CEO, Gill Scott-Moore said: “Since we first highlighted trauma exposure as an issue in 2016, Police Care UK have continued to research and develop innovative initiatives to tackle trauma exposure and resilience in UK policing. We are delighted that the Police Covenant is enabling a platform for these effective practices to be adopted by all forces and ensure we are helping to keep people well and meet the needs of modern-day policing.”

Police work is inherently traumatising, with police routinely being exposed to trauma directly and indirectly. At the same time officers are aware of the prevailing culture that requires them to appear impervious to trauma.

This hinders conversations about mental health and support among officers. Trauma interventions are needed for officers so that there can be a cultural shift, so officers have an increased awareness of their own and their colleague’s mental health and coping capacity.

One in five police officers and staff in the UK have symptoms consistent with either post-traumatic stress disorder or what’s known as “complex PTSD” yet over two-thirds of those suffering are unaware. Please seek help if you are struggling.

See the police traumatic events checklist here: www.policecare.org.uk/2023/09/08/launching-ptec-police-traumatic-events-checklist/