Cambridgeshire Police Federation can help officers access support for their mental health and wellbeing.

That’s the advice of branch secretary and detectives’ lead Scott Houghton as the country faces the uncertainty of another coronavirus lockdown.

Scott is encouraging officers to look after themselves and each other, and says the Federation is there to help if they need extra support.

“We’re entering another period of uncertainty as the country goes into another lockdown,” Scott said, “My colleagues will continue to be at the forefront and will continue to police the pandemic.

“But we need to recognise they’re only human and have their own worries, which is why we need to get better at talking to and listening to each other.

“And where officers feel they need further support, we’re here to help them find that support.”

Scott’s comments echo those of Glyn Pattinson, chair of the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF), who’s encouraging officers to be more open about their wellbeing to help them deal with the demands of policing – particularly during the pandemic.

“We are all finding it tough right now, in every force, in every discipline,” said Glyn, “And if now isn’t the time to recognise the signs and show simple acts of kindness, I don’t know when is.”

Glyn has written a blog for the national Federation website in which he said policing needs to recognise the demands and personal impact of dealing with serious and disturbing crime. He also highlighted the pressure detectives were under.

He said: “Unsurprisingly, policing can be very grim at times. No officer I know signed up thinking it will be easy, but while we embrace what we face with pride and the overwhelming will to protect the public we serve, it shouldn’t come with the expectation that we can all cope with anything and everything. We can’t. No one can.

“Recognition must be given to officers and staff throughout policing for the constant commendable work they do and their unwavering nerve – particularly throughout the pandemic.”

He continued: “Every detective I know wants to do the best job possible but there simply are not enough of us. Demand is outstripping resources and colleagues are working excessive hours, forgoing rest days, sacrificing time with their families and simply not getting enough rest. 

“The sad thing is that this is a normal working week for most, severely impacting on physical and mental wellbeing. It’s hard enough trying to process and cope with traumatic criminal investigations but this is in addition to supporting scared and distressed victims, working with partner agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service, and seeing a number of legal processes through to completion to bring some form of closure for those affected.

Glyn added: “Officers tend to put their own welfare last and the misconception by many that officers can forget what they have seen once a case has finished and swiftly move onto the next – or rather juggle several cases at once – only adds to the strain. All of this is cumulative and lasts a lifetime.

“We need to get better at supporting each other – recognise when we are struggling, talk more openly about wellbeing and listen.

“There are sources of support out there, but we need to see cultural change and we all have a role to play in that.”

The Federation is putting a focus on detectives throughout January.

Read more of Glyn’s blog.