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Officer welfare staff urged to share best practice on crisis response

Oscar Kilo team says it is important that forces which had not seen high numbers of cases were kept updated

The Police Federation has backed calls from mental health leads for police forces to support staff responding to the coronavirus crisis.

Custody staff and control room operators were among those to be highlighted as advice was updated by Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service.

Mental health leads were called on to keep up with national guidance which will be updated.

They were encouraged to join a group on LinkedIn that will share information so that best practice on workforce mental health reaches teams quickly. Forces are independent and are having to respond in varying ways because the outbreak is impacting differently across the country.

But the Oscar Kilo team said it was important that forces which had not had high numbers of cases were kept updated.

“We want to assist forces by capturing best practice and providing a platform that practitioners can learn from each other as we face this unprecedented challenge,” they said. 

Oscar Kilo added: “Police forces are operationally independent – national guidance will provide a framework and consistency however, forces will still be able to make decisions around their policy and processes locally which they will communicate and promote in their own organisations.

"Given the ever changing landscape of public health and government advice, we will continue to signpost to those national sources of information.”

It is a critical issue that until recently has been overlooked by hard-pressed forces struggling to meet demands on services with a reduced workforce and limited budgets.

The increase in demands and health concerns will add to existing pressure and one senior police leader highlighted some of the sources of stress. Dr Alan Billings, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire said the mental health of officers and staff was a critical issue.

 “There’s a lot of anxiety around on the frontline because they realise they are now in contact all the time with people who may have coronavirus or carrying it. Those who have families are worried about what’s going to happen now that schools are closing. There’s a lot of concerns around childcare,” he told Police Oracle.

“People who work in places like custody suites are obviously going to be hyper anxious because they have so many people coming through during the day and they’re very exposed.”

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation said officers – and their families – needed wellbeing to be factored into decision-making.

He told Police Oracle: “The workforce welfare and wellbeing of police officers and their families is my top priority during the pandemic, so I fully support this initiative by Oscar Kilo and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

“Behind the uniform, police officers are people with families too so we are also working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure officers get the clear guidance and protections necessary so they can protect the public.”

The Oscar Kilo support will include:

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