Police Wellbeing in the UK: Ensuring police officers are fit to deliver justice

Dr Rebecca Phythian1, Professor Stuart Kirby1, Dr Nathan Birdsall1, Dr Emily Cooper1, Mrs Zoe Posner1, Dr Laura Boulton1

1University Of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

The police workforce has faced a reduction in staff numbers and resources, in addition to a change in the type of police demand after years of austerity. Traditionally, policing responded to public demand (i.e. enforcement, arrest); in today’s society, protective and societal issues (i.e. safeguarding vulnerable adults) also require the attention of police officers and staff. In a rapidly changing environment, with shifting and increasing demands, the impact is noticed not only at an organisational level (i.e. time away from investigations), but also at an individual one (i.e. increased stress and anxiety). ‘Police wellbeing’ was not a widely acknowledged concept in policing, however the past decade has seen a gradual increase in awareness and initiatives targeted towards workforce wellness. This is most notable in the rollout of the National Police Wellbeing Service in the UK. The paper presents an overview of the findings from a national review of police wellbeing, commissioned by the College of Policing. A mixed methods approach was adopted to analyse data obtained from the ‘Blue Light Wellbeing Framework’, ‘National Police Wellbeing Service Executive Workshops’ and a ‘HR Policy Review’. The paper discusses consistent themes, facilitators and inhibitors to wellbeing. Encouraging progress and attitudes towards police wellbeing is evident, although the inconsistencies and limitations demonstrate the work that still needs to be done. The traditional management structure and policies in policing do not align with the modern, complex and diverse demand experienced by police officers and staff.


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