Government prioritises wellbeing and mental health of officers in new package to support police

Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service.

The Front Line Review has seen the Home Office engage directly with police officers and staff for more than a year to discover their ideas for change and improvement in policing.

In a report published on 10 July, the department published everything it has heard from the front line, alongside a package of new measures, which aims to transform the support given to them. This includes plans to work with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to embed wellbeing into the culture of policing through inspecting forces.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said, “Our world-leading police keep us safe in the most challenging of circumstances – so it’s vital we do everything possible to support them in their roles.

“Over the past year we’ve been speaking to officers and listening to their views around how they can make the service they provide even better. As a result, we are taking action to reduce their workloads, ensure their wellbeing and give the front line a stronger voice in decision making.”

The Front Line Review was launched by Policing Minister Nick Hurd and the Police Federation, at their headquarters. Nick Hurd said, “We wanted to hear directly from the front line of policing and the messages were clear. The need for more people. The call to stop wasting police time. The desire for more of a say in the decisions that affect the front line. The need for more time and support for both training and wellbeing.

“We have listened and now we are taking action with our partners to make sure police officers, staff and volunteers have the support they need, wherever they serve. This is on top of the increased investment to recruit more officers.

“New guidance will also be issued empowering police to push back against responding to inappropriate requests for attendance, often health or welfare related, and where the police have neither the right skills or powers to respond. This is designed to make a difference for vulnerable people, giving them the right support from the right agencies, while also freeing up time for the police to focus on tackling crime.”

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said, “In my 27 years’ service, this is the first time I can recall the Home Office directly engaging with the front line to seek their views and I welcome that.

“I admit to being sceptical at first, concerned the review would side-step the important issues of pay, morale and trying to do more with fewer officers, but I was reassured to hear the police minister acknowledge these views have been captured and will be considered alongside this.

“It is now important that we all work together to ensure these recommendations to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing become a meaningful reality for police officers.”

Other measures in the Front Line Review launch include: plans to bring the front line into the decision-making process on future policies and change; a commitment to look into shift patterns with a view to give officers more time for wellbeing, as well as personal and professional development; and bringing police chiefs and their staff together to find solutions to the front line’s frustrations over internal bureaucracies, including administration and inefficiencies, to free up time.

These measures have been informed by the feedback from police officers and staff. An Office for National Statistics (ONS) report summarising the views from 28 face-to-face workshops with police provides candid views from the front line about demand, wellbeing challenges, insecurities around personal safety, training and morale.

Individual and team resilience, PTSD, mental health, equality and diversity, and the psychological impacts on control room staff are among the topics being covered in the Health & Wellbeing Theatre seminar sessions at this year’s Emergency Services Show. Taking place in Hall 5 at the NEC in Birmingham, the Show is a two-day event, which brings together all disciplines from the emergency services sector to discover innovative technologies and operational solutions, share their experiences and unite in their collaborative approach to public safety. Find out more here.