Forces Must Support Vulnerable Officers With Mental Health

Police officers need to feel supported by their forces so they can talk about their mental health, Hampshire Police Federation has said, as the Home Affairs Select Committee discussed suicide prevention in the police.

In one of its last sittings before Parliament was dissolved, Andy Rhodes from Oscar Kilo told the Select Committee that it did not yet have full data on the number of police suicides.

PFEW Wellbeing Co-Lead Paul Williams also told MPs: “To be able to say in 2024 that we do not monitor our police officers in terms of the suicide or attempted suicide rate is incredible.” He added that the police service needed to “up its game” at spotting the early warning signs.

In response, Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “I’m shocked how many officers in neighbouring forces have taken their own lives over the past 12 months. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened in Hampshire Constabulary, but we know that people have been very close and that Fed reps have been supporting them.

“There are a lot of complex reasons for this. But it’s important that officers feel supported by their force. Some people don’t feel they can be open about how they feel at work; perhaps they don’t have that connection or confidence in their line manager, so a lot of people are suffering and not talking about it.”
She added: “I don’t think this is just an issue for policing, but it can be heightened in policing because of the traumatic incidents that we have to deal with.

“I think more needs to be done nationally and that the Government looks at this across the board, not just at police. In addition, all police chiefs should be looking at policing specifically because of the heightened trauma, which is going to have an impact on somebody who’s already feeling vulnerable.”

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