The Government and the police watchdog – namely Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) – will work together to put the well-being and mental health of staff and officers at the heart of policing following a landmark review. The Front Line Review has seen the Home Office engage directly with officers and staff for more than a year. The Home Office is now publishing everything it has heard from the front line alongside introducing a package of new measures which aims to transform the support given to them.
The support includes plans to work with HMICFRS to embed well-being into the culture of policing through inspecting forces.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our world-leading police keep us safe in the most challenging of circumstances, so it’s vital we do everything possible to support them in their roles. Over the past year we’ve been speaking to officers and listening to their views around how they can make the service they provide even better. As a result, we’re taking action to reduce their workloads, ensure their well-being and give the front line a stronger voice in decision-making.”
The Front Line Review has been launched by Policing Minister Nick Hurd and the Police Federation of England and Wales at the latter’s headquarters. Officers from the front line and representatives from the College of Policing, the Superintendents’ Association, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners were all present.
Hurd added: “We wanted to hear directly from the front line of policing and the messages were clear. There’s a need for more people. The call to stop wasting police time. The desire for more of a say in the decisions that affect the front line. The need for more time and support for both training and well-being. We’ve listened and now we’re taking action with our partners to make sure police officers, staff and volunteers have the support they need, wherever they serve. This is on top of the increased investment to recruit more officers.”
Making a difference
New guidance will also be issued empowering police to push back against responding to inappropriate requests for attendance, often health or welfare related, and where the police have neither the right skills or powers to respond.
This is designed to make a difference for vulnerable people, giving them the right support from the right agencies, while also freeing up time for the police to focus on tackling crime.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, commented: “In my 27 years’ service, this is the first time I can recall the Home Office directly engaging with the front line to seek their views and I welcome that. I admit to having been sceptical at first, concerned the review would side-step the important issues of pay, morale and trying to do more with fewer officers, but I was reassured to hear the policing minister acknowledge these views have been captured and will be considered alongside this. It’s now important that we all work together to ensure these recommendations to prioritise their mental health and well-being become a meaningful reality for police officers.”
Other measures outlined in the Front Line Review launch include:
*plans to bring the front line into the decision-making process on future policies and change
*a commitment to look into shift patterns with a view to giving officers more time for well-being as well as personal and professional development
*bringing police chiefs and their staff together to find solutions to the front line’s frustrations over internal bureaucracies, including administration and inefficiencies, in order to free up time
These measures have been informed by the feedback from police officers and staff. An Office for National Statistics report summarises the views from 28 face-to-face workshops with police and provides candid views from the front line about demand, well-being challenges, insecurities around personal safety, training and morale.
The Government has worked closely with the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Police Federation, HMICFRS, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and others to see how it can learn from these findings.