Over-worked police officers will benefit from a new £7.5m Welfare Fund after the Police Federation of England and Wales lobbied Government tirelessly for more help.
The National Police Welfare Service will initially be tested as a pilot and, subject to its success be rolled out to all 43 forces between 2018 and 2020.
Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said, “This is fantastic news for all officers and particularly our members whose work in high-stress situations has been exacerbated over the years because policing numbers have been cut to the bone.
“Now they will have access to a properly funded welfare service offering specialist help, which the federation has been calling for for years. While forces have tried hard to provide support, it has been very difficult in the current austerity climate to ensure good provision across the board.
“We know from our own welfare survey that the mental wellbeing of police officers is considerably poorer than that of the general public. Nearly two thirds of officers (65 percent) said they still went to work even though they felt they shouldn’t because of the state of their mental wellbeing.
“We also identified a ‘macho’ culture that inhibited disclosure in the first place, a lack of training for line managers and long waiting lists for counselling and related services. So this new service will make a tremendous difference to officers who are saying they are over-stretched and burnt out because of the demands being placed upon them.”
PFEW’s welfare survey, carried out in 2016, also reported that almost half (42 percent) of officers felt they were poorly, or very poorly, supported by the police service when they did seek help.
Mr White added, “We took proactive steps to better understand the issues that exist, but realised that our findings were likely to only be the tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, it was important evidence, which we used to push leaders to improve the support given to their staff.
“We will continue to work with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure that the scheme is a success and provides the support that is needed for the service.”