Police Covenant must safeguard officers’ mental health


PUBLISHED 22 May 2020

IN News

Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has called for the safeguarding of officers’ mental health to be at the heart of a Police Covenant.

Liz says there should be a strong focus on mental health as well as physical health, with better support for officers.

Her comments come in Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday (24 May) as the national Federation makes its submission to the Government consultation on a Police Covenant.

Liz said: “Our members put themselves in harm’s way every day in the line of duty, not least during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. And what they witness and what they experience can have a lasting psychological impact on them.

“It’s only right that we should look after their mental as well as their physical health, and give them the help, support and protection they deserve.”

The latest studies from the Federation revealed 30 per cent of officers had sought help for mental health and wellbeing difficulties associated with, or due to, a potentially traumatic incident that they experienced in the line of duty. 

One in five officers suffer from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and poor mental health and wellbeing is also twice as likely to force officers to take significant time off work than physical injuries.

It’s estimated mental health is costing the service between £189.8 million and £229.9 million annually.

Having consulted with Police Federation wellbeing leads from across the 43 forces in England and Wales, the Federation’s response also calls on the Government to consider including the following in the Police Covenant:

National Federation chair John Apter called on the Government to do more to protect police officers both psychically and mentally.

“The challenges, dangers and threats officers face are often unpredictable, but their unique and selfless support means they adapt and deal with the unknown. The last few difficult weeks prove just this,” he said.

“Our colleagues on the front-line have been putting themselves and their families in harm’s way to help save lives and ease the burden on the NHS; a testament to their dedication. It’s only right that officers, police staff, retired colleagues and their families are given the support and recognition they deserve in return.

“But this must be more than just a poster on the wall; the covenant must be meaningful and enshrined in law so the Government and chiefs can be held accountable for delivering change.

“We will continue to seek the views of members to ensure this makes a positive tangible difference to the welfare and wellbeing support available for everyone in the police service and their loved ones who they couldn’t do their incredible jobs without.”

Plans for the Police Covenant were included in the Police Powers and Protections Bill which was included in the Queen’s Speech in December last year.

Read the full Federation submission to the consultation.