Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has welcomed work to launch a 24/7 mental health crisis hotline for policing and says it needs to be part of a holistic approach to officer wellbeing.
Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, is set to launch the round-the-clock service in spring as part of the Police Covenant.
Liz said: “As a Federation we want to let our members know that support is there for them if they need it and that they are not alone.
“To that end, the new 24-hour mental health hotline is most welcome, if not before time.
“We also need to ensure the support is there for members before they reach crisis point.
“The Federation’s Welfare Support Programme offers members confidential and independent services with fully trained and accredited professionals.
“But the duty of care sits with the Force, and we’re working with senior officers to make sure it’s proactive in supporting officers and taking steps to prevent issues arising.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need significant ring-fenced funding across the service for officer welfare.
“For instance, we’ve lost access to canteens and rest time to debrief traumatic incidents, which used to play a key role in supporting our mental health.
“It’s about having a holistic approach that helps prevent mental health issues for officers, and addresses them when they arise.”
Andy Rhodes, National Police Wellbeing Service director, said: “This pivotal move by the Home Office is not only timely, but aligns seamlessly with the ongoing efforts to bolster the mental health support available within the policing community.
“In our expert view, this initiative is very much needed and follows on from the work that’s already being done to support the mental health of police officers and staff.
“The journey from the suicide prevention consensus statement, the development of the Police Covenant, and the creation of a chief medical officer for policing have all been crucial steps towards understanding and addressing the unique mental health challenges faced by those in the policing profession.
“We believe that now, more than ever, it is the right time for more focus to be put into this area, ensuring that our officers and staff have access to the support they need, whenever they need it.
“In developing this service, we will be working collaboratively with partners across the policing and emergency services landscape. Our approach will be inclusive and consultative, ensuring that the hotline is shaped by the collective expertise and experience of various stakeholders that are already working hard in this space.
“We welcome the initial funding from the Home Office to get this initiative off the ground. As part of our work to develop it, we’ll be looking to make sure we develop a sustainable funding solution to ensure its longevity, ensuring that this hotline remains a steadfast resource for our officers and staff in the years to come.”