Cambridgeshire Police Federation has welcomed more collaboration within policing to reduce the tragic number of officer suicides.
According to the Office for National Statistics more than 20 police officers take their own lives in England and Wales each year, and this has prompted organisations including the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing, the Federation, and others, to commit to working together to tackle the issue.
A consensus statement released this week pledged police organisations, the NHS and the Home Office to develop joint strategies, advance knowledge and understanding of suicide in policing, promote good mental health and signpost the specialist support that is available.
Cambridgeshire Federation chair Liz Groom said: “Police officers are brave and dedicated but we’re also only human. Even those with the broadest shoulders will be impacted by this job and some of the traumatic things we see and experience. It is not easy to brush that off and it can accumulate over the years with tragic results.
“This is why it is so important that all of us in policing look out for our colleagues and recognise the signs that someone may be struggling. This is not just about being a good employer but it’s basic humanity and understanding that police officers – people who selflessly put the welfare of others before their own – need help sometimes too.”
The consensus statement was developed by Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS), which worked with the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) to learn from the ambulance service’s approach to suicide prevention and provide guidance for policing.
It calls for further de-stigmatisation of mental ill-health within policing and practical measures such as regular reviews of shift patterns and working hours.
The Federation’s national vice-chair, Ché Donald, said: “The national consensus statement is the beginning of a more collective approach which we hope will pay dividends in the longer run. Our combined aim is to break down the many existing barriers to help-seeking.”
A toolkit will be made available to all forces in spring 2022 and will also be accessible via the Oscar Kilo website.