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Vital work of Response Officers is under-valued chiefs admit

Response officer work needs to be recognised as a specialist role in its own right according to the NPCC

Support for first responders is “imperative”, chiefs have said at the start of a national awareness week.

Forces are promoting wellbeing services for response officers in a bid to improve morale and awareness of the most critical role in policing.

Intranets will feature guidance and advice plus testimonials highlighting the complex work response officers do often with limited information about the incidents they are attending.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Response Policing, T/Deputy Chief Constable Rob Carden said: “The Response Week of Action provides an opportunity for all forces to highlight the vital role that Response Officers play in protecting the public and keeping communities safe.

Chiefs and the support service Oscar Kilo are promoting help for officers who have been assaulted while on duty and ways for colleagues to help tackle job stress.

Forces said Uplift recruits who are new to the job will be one of their priorities.

T/Deputy Chief Constable Rob Carden added: "This week is an opportunity to put a spotlight on police officers who are often the youngest in service, the first to respond to danger and often the first police officer that members of the public come into contact with.

"It is imperative that we recognise the value of this role and the officers upon whom this responsibility rests.”

The NPCC also said more needs to be done to shift the perception that response work is not a specialist role.

The College of Policing used the start of the initiative to promote its resources for response officers, highlighting the skillset that is needed for a job that has previously been overlooked.

It supported calls for all ranks to see response officers who stay in the role and don’t go for promotion as experienced assets for their forces.

The initiative builds on work started by Merseyside’s Chief Constable Serena Kennedy to change the job culture which sees response work as a packaging service for other specialists in the service and a fall back for NHS mental health services or children’s social services.

The reality is that the job requires complex problem-solving skills, networking abilities and excellent intelligence on the local area.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Wellbeing, Ch Supt Chris Gibson, said: "I am privileged to have worked alongside Response officers throughout my career and I am passionate about supporting and recognising our frontline responders and ensuring that the very valuable role that they perform in policing is recognised as a specialism in its own right.”

The week is also part of work by the College of Policing to change the approach to leadership from a top-down management structure to supporting officers who take “courageous decisions in difficult circumstances”.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, College of Policing CEO, said: “Response is at the core of policing’s crime fighting mission and we must look after the officers and staff who are responding to calls from the public and confronting criminals day and night.”

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