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What is Cambridgeshire’s Pause Point scheme?

Pause Point is a structured review process which aims to support officers’ welfare and pick up concerns before they develop into significant problems.

The idea was first implemented in 2018 within the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People department. Within the past year, however, other teams within the force have begun to pick up the idea and implement it themselves.

It is a structured process with five key stages - beginning with the pre-join interview. Implemented within this initial meeting is a discussion around the person’s resilience for the role. The next review will take place after three months in the role to discuss progress but also any emerging issues to enable support to be put in if necessary. It’s also a point at which a line manager can assess whether an officer is still suited to the role.

A further meeting is held at six months and from then on an officer will have a ‘Pause Point’ interview every 12 months, in line with their end of year review. These are conducted by the officer’s second line manager in order to put the officer more at ease and provide an extra layer of supervisory independence.

The fifth pillar involves a meeting with an officer's first and second line manager every three years.

Having been with the department for 10 years, DCI Sherrie Nash has experience of the initiative both undergoing the process hereself and also conducting those sessions as a line manager.

She explained to Police Oracle: “This is all about establishing whether the officer is still thriving in a role. So are they still personally okay with the type of work? Are we satisfied that their performance is not being hindered by any impact?

“These are the points where actually some people will openly say after three years, I've had enough, and I would like to go away and try something else. But it's also the point where sometimes managers need to have difficult, honest and open conversations with individuals where  their peers or their line managers may recognise there is a problem, but the individual themselves doesn't.”

DCI Nash explained that because the scheme has become part of the department, and officers begin it as soon as they join the team, it has gone some way to normalising the conversations. She said it’s also been useful as a way of formalising time and space for supervisors to have those discussions.

“Knowing that it applies to everybody and that it's not used as a performance tool, officers understand that this is purely about their welfare, and really do open up,” she said.  

Speaking of her own first Pause Point meeting, DCI Nash explained she had been feeling anxious that others may have noticed changes she hadn’t herself noticed, or that they might suggest it would be time for her to move to a different role.

“My apprehension about the process really, it wasn't justified at all,” she explained.

“The meeting was really comfortable and open. It was very different to a normal one-to-one. There was no discussion around my performance, or actions that I previously set, or work that I hadn't done. This was very much about me.

“That really helped me then know how to manage conversations that I needed to then go and have with my staff.”

The scheme has not been mandated force-wide but more teams across the organisation are starting to use it. It has also been recognised on the Oscar Kilo website.

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