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Don't put the Covenant in the 'too difficult box' Fed tells ministers

The new welfare programme for officers and their families must match up to ministers promises, the Fed has warned.

Just days before the Police Covenant comes into law, ministers have been urged to fill in vital gaps about what it will do to ensure it is “credible”.

The Federation, which has supported its creation and been part of some of the negotiations, has urged ministers not to put it in the “too difficult” box.

Deputy Leader Tiffany Lynch said the Covenant – which is based on the Armed Forces programme – needed long-term commitment and funding from ministers.

She told Police Oracle: “It can’t just be a piece of paper with a lot false promises with the government and forces saying ‘look how good we are’. We’ve got to make it credible. We have to see something tangible out of it.”

Going live follows a joint campaign by the Federation and Police Oracle to formalise physical protection, health and wellbeing and support for officers, staff and families.

The Covenant was formalised in the Police and Crime Act in April after a process that began with a Home Office consultation in 2020.

A working group was set up by the Home Office with membership including Oscar Kilo, the Fed, Police Superintendents’ Association and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Work so far has included roundtables with family members of officers and staff plus a three day workshop led by the National Police Wellbeing Service.

At the event, attended by more than 30 forces, the clinical team provided detailed advice and support for occupation health teams.

Oscar Kilo has been brought into the College of Policing and a Chief Medical Adviser will operate at national level.

But recruitment for the post has yet to begin and their priorities have yet to be set by the government.

Ms Lynch said the pace needed to be picked up before officers lose faith: “It’s not about a mindfulness package or a poster on the back of a toilet cubical door. You can talk about it all day long. It’s having all the stakeholders linked together to provide proper support. It shouldn’t be difficult.

“We’ve got the Armed Forces Covenant. Yes, the uniforms are different and clearly we do different things. But we do deal with similar levels of trauma.”

The oversight group, which is chaired by Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, has a list of work ahead.

It includes:

But the Fed is concerned that development work is still being carried out despite the Covenant now being in law

Ms Lynch said: “There’s so much more to do. To put it in their perspective, it’s going to save forces and the government a large pile of money and the key thing is – yes – it’s going to save lives.”

As HMIC warned that the Metropolitan Police is struggling because of the huge number of new officers, Ms Lynch said demand for services will only increase.

“So much more is being put onto our officers. Young officers are now the majority and you can’t get away from the fact that their life skills are not as broad as, say for example, an older ex-Service officer,” she said.

“If you have five sudden deaths to go to, it’s going to have an impact. What provisions are put in place for that officer? There is only so much that one person can absorb. It’s about putting those safety measures in place.”

She raised a critical concern: “The danger is that the Police Covenant is going to be just a paper exercise. I’m just hoping they don’t put it in the ‘too difficult’ box.”

The Home Office highlighted the most recent meeting at which the minister noted “the good progress made across all the workstreams”.

He also note he Board’s intention to seek “a commitment from Chief Constables to support the Covenant” and highlighted that “the NPCC were leading this work”.

The College of Policing said part of the work had involved bringing together existing services to improve provision.

Bringing the Oscar Kilo service under the College ‘umbrella’ will help with improving support for officers who have been assaulted.

Chief Executive Andy Marsh told Police Oracle: “It’s my intention, working with Oscar Kilo in support of the government’s aims to make sure the Covent achieves a real difference for people in policing and their families.”

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