OPERATION Hampshire “makes a real difference” to supporting police officers who have been assaulted, Hampshire Police Federation’s Chair has said.
The plan, which sets out the way officers are supported after they have been assaulted, was first developed in Hampshire when PFEW Chair John Apter was head of the local Federation.
Now the plan is to be rolled out across England and Wales. The College of Policing has appointed Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector Dave Brewster on a six-month secondment to promote consistency of support across the country and help forces develop their own post-assault care programmes. Ch Insp Brewster has led the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Hampshire programme since 2016.
Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield is proud of the system’s legacy, saying: “It’s brilliant that the College of Policing is making sure that it is going to be proper business as usual across every single force, because it absolutely should be.
“It does make a real difference to ensure that proper consistency. The majority of it is common sense, particularly when we don’t have consistency of line management.”
Zoë referred to the ‘night manager lottery’, where procedures weren’t always consistent depending on who was in charge.
She said: “I know that’s the same across other forces, so this eliminates some of that because there’s a proper step-by-step process that has to be followed. It means all the right people are notified and that officers get the appropriate support. So it is really good news.”
She said Operation Hampshire had clear rules about what happens when an officer is assaulted.
Zoë explained: “Initially they should be taken out of the incidents. We’ve had it before where we’ve had officers investigating their own assaults and writing their own statements. Now someone else will take the statement from them, somebody else investigates.
“They’re regularly updated on what happens with that investigation. Somebody else will take them to the hospital. Somebody else will give them a lift home. They’re not just left, which is what used to happen. They will get a follow-up call from not only their line management but a senior officer. The Federation always gets notified.
“In Hampshire we send them all a Costa gift card so that they can go and have a coffee with a friend or a colleague and have a chat and debrief the incident. We also have TRiM, which is the debriefing tool. For the more serious assaults then we’ve got things like going for a stay in our welfare cottage and referrals to places like Police Care UK.”
Assaults on police officers continue to be high during the pandemic, which Zoë thinks is partly due to society becoming more violent, but also because officers are reporting it more.
She is also worried by a recent National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) survey that suggested that younger-in-service officers were more likely to be assaulted.
She said: “That for me is a real worry, with the 20,000 uplift coming in, and during the first lockdown we stopped all our personal safety training. It has resumed now, but it did stop for a long time.
“So it does worry me that we’ve got inexperienced officers who haven’t had the same amount of training as others would have had if it wasn’t for COVID. There is a risk that assaults could go up again.”