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First of Oscar Kilo’s 2022 award winners announced

The National Police Wellbeing Service are announcing this year’s award winners each day this week.

Excellence in work to support the mental health of officers across the country has been recognised in national awards.

Winner of the ‘Absence management’ award was a research project by Lincolnshire police which resulted in a redesign of the tac vest to reduce musculoskeletal issues. 

Initiated by former Inspector Colin Haigh, who had picked up on feedback from officers, the project involved a lab-study at the University of Lincoln’s sports centre to assess the way in which officers’ bodies interacted with operationally loaded tac vests (and body armour). 

Technology was used to monitor the movement of participants and look specifically at posture and gait. The resultant findings showed that the fit of the tac vest was placing strain on the neck and postural muscles - generating a whiplash effect of around 40%. 

A new ergonomic kit is now being issued to certain officers who will provide feedback. The project’s success will be measured by a reduction of sickness absence for musculoskeletal issues, a reduction of complaints of these issues and qualitative feedback. 

Chief Insp Haigh said: “The driving motivation behind why Lincolnshire Police invested time and money into this research is because we want officers to be fit and healthy during their working life”.

A further project that has been recognised by Oscar Kilo this week is Cheshire’s Specialist psychological wellbeing programme. 

Among the strands of the programme are bespoke psychologist services for Op Hummingbird, the investigation into deaths at The Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit, and fast track counselling at LPU’s following traumatic incidents. 

The force has further incorporated of PERMA (a model for weaving wellbeing into daily life) into IPLDP, PCDA and detective training. 

Also cited by Oscar Kilo was the Cheshire’s Pause Point scheme which is a structured review process that aims to pick up concerns over officers’ wellbeing before they develop into significant problems. 

Last month DCI Sherrie Nash told 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?

“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.” 

Meanwhile, South Yorkshire has walked away with the award for Leadership with their OK9 Welling dogs and Surrey and Sussex received the ‘Creating the environment’ award for work undertaken jointly to deliver a ‘quality over quantity’ wellbeing services. 

Kevin Coombes, Wellbeing Lead for Surrey Police and Sussex Police, said: “From volunteers of our brilliant Police Chaplaincy to those becoming mental health first aiders or joining a staff network, we’ve worked hard to ensure we’re meeting the wellbeing needs of our forces and will continue to look at new ideas as those needs evolve.” 

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