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News

Doing More To Prevent Suicide

Organisations from across policing are working together in a new initiative to reduce the number of deaths by suicide in the police service.

Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, has been learning from the ambulance service’s approach to suicide prevention in order to develop a consensus statement and guidance for policing.

The published consensus statement acknowledges the progress that has been made to reduce mental health stigma in the police, while recognising that, as part of policing’s wider commitment to improving the mental health of its people, different groups must work together on this important issue.

It was agreed by the Police Federation of England & Wales, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Police Superintendents’ Association, UNISON and the Home Office.

One of its commitments is to improve the way data is recorded on police officer and staff deaths, serious injury and suicide, as proposed by the 2020 Officer and Staff Safety Review.

There will also be more support for the family and friends of police officers and staff.

In addition, Oscar Kilo has worked closely with Samaritans to commission a toolkit to support staff in the event of a suicide, which will be incorporated into its Blue Light Wellbeing Framework.

The toolkit will be made available to all forces in spring 2022 and will also be accessible via the Oscar Kilo website.

Andy Rhodes, Service Director for Oscar Kilo, said: “This is a hugely important commitment for policing, and I am encouraged by the support this has received from across policing and Government.

“The NPCC suicide prevention working group has been working tirelessly for years and today’s statement is testament to their advocacy.

“Research demonstrates the police service culture is changing, with evidence of reduced stigma and awareness of the impact of police work on our mental health.

“The National Police Wellbeing Service was established to provide guidance and support to forces, as well as training and resources for the 200,000 police officers and staff who work tirelessly to keep the public safe.

“Our suicide prevention approach recognises the vital role these preventative activities play in helping to reduce escalation into mental health crisis, whilst acknowledging there is more to do.

“The suicide prevention consensus will address gaps in awareness, education and data collection specific to suicide and allow us to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support police forces, making sure they have the tools and guidance they need to support their staff.”

HOW OSCAR KILO HELPS OFFICERS

Oscar Kilo provides guidance, support, training and resources to forces, including:

  • 8,000 annual psychological risk assessments for higher risk groups;
  • Co-ordination of an annual national wellbeing survey;
  • A fleet of 10 wellbeing outreach vans that provide on-site physical, financial and psychological health checks and are deployed to critical Incidents and large policing operations such as COP26;
  • Trauma intervention training for line managers;
  • Online materials and webinars covering issues such as fatigue, cancer awareness and stress management;
  • Anti-stigma and communication campaign materials and resources;
  • Access to over 80 wellbeing dogs through the OK9 network.

Date posted: March 15, 2022

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