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Police Scotland moves to improve control room wellbeing

Police Scotland has defended work to improve control room staff wellbeing which includes SAD lamps and pot plants

Police Scotland has rolled out a wellbeing programme for its control staff in a bid to reduce stress levels.

The force has bought staff at its five sites SAD lamps – which help with depression by imitating natural light – desk plants and new kitchen equipment in a bid to improve their working environment.

Earlier this year the force came in for criticism after confirming thousands of calls were being diverted to neighbouring forces due to the huge demand during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

The volume of calls is significant; in July their service advisors received in excess of 68,000 emergency 999 calls and more than 173,000 non-emergency 101 calls.

Until now, the force has been focused on improving outcomes for members of the public. A mental health specialist has been part of the team to assess whether a health intervention is required.

Its focus on employees has begun as part of a wider turnaround that started with its historic debt being wiped out at the start of the financial year.

New kit, including body worn video, is being rolled out and the police estate is being overhauled following cuts which included the loss of 1,400 staff announced in 2014.

But not all members of the team have been impressed by the efforts of the HR team.

One told local media: “The call handlers are worked up. They’re dealing with more calls than in previous years, when there are less staff than previous years.

“They know that missing a call could have extremely serious consequences for the caller and whoever the call is about. But they’re not miracle workers, they can’t be on two calls at once,” they said.

“Having a plant on their desk doesn’t make their job easier or help them direct police to an incident any quicker.”

But the force said the additions had come as a result of listening to their staff and acting to improve their working environment.

Chief Superintendent Roddy Newbigging said: “We have used organisational funding, provided annually to departments and divisions, to invest in things that staff and officers have told us will make their working day a little easier as part of Police Scotland’s commitment to improve the wellbeing of our people.

“Staff asked for a range of items such as plants, SAD lamps, kitchen equipment, bike racks, and sanitary products, all intended to improve the working environment."

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