Agenda item

Mental Health and Wellbeing of Police Officers

The PCC to report on what measures are being out in place to deal with the increased number of Police Officers suffering with Mental Health.


In addition, the PCC will update the Panel on the impact on TVP of the high number of resignations of Police Officers.



The PCC submitted a report which provided the strategic context and accountability for the mental health and wellbeing of Police Officers. The PCC reported that ensuring an effective and resilient workforce and exercising a duty of care over officers and staff was part of the ongoing accountability arrangements between the PCC and the Chief Constable.


Concerns about mental health conditions has been growing in society generally and the pressurised and often traumatic nature of policing leads to obvious additional risks within the profession. The PCC said the welfare of officers, both mentally and physically, was important not simply because the Chief Constable has a duty of care to officers and staff, but also to ensure the effectiveness of policing was not adversely affected by sickness absence. Significant efforts were made with the Force to ensure staff welfare, through both proactive and reactive means.


Members’ Questions


1.       Reference was made to the morale of the Police generally being low because of recent well publicised events. This was impacting on their mental health and on their families. The report provided by the PCC sets out specifics on the support offered to officers, however, how does the PCC ensure that the Chief Constable exercises a duty of care over officers, particularly around mental health problems such as stress? Police Officers were an important resource and there should be resilience to ensure the retention of officers.


[The PCC acknowledged that retention of Police Officers in Thames Valley was a challenge, however, there were other reasons for this. There was a duty of care to officers, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public and there was a duty to look after their wellbeing.


One of the challenges around mental health was there was no one size fits all. Historically there were people who joined the Force as new recruits or apprentices who realised perhaps that the job was not for them.


 In 2020, there were not many officers that did leave, particularly because of Covid and a sense of duty and because the economy was on hold. There were the usual reasons given why officers left the Force, the perennial issues in Thames Valley such as the higher cost of living, shortage of affordable housing etc.]


2.       How was the PCC holding the Chief Constable to account about the impact of the activities the Police were involved in and are there performance indicators for this?


 [The PCC replied that key areas to look around were sickness levels. These were low last year but they were beginning to increase. The challenge was working out the hours lost for psychological reasons. There had been a slight increase, but it was difficult to assess whether actions taken to support the mental health and wellbeing of Police Officers were having an effect.]


3.       Could the PCC explain why TVP have an above average rate of resignations amongst police officers, compared to other Forces?


[The PCC reiterated that there were a variety of reasons; cost of living in the Thames Valley, officers transferring to other Force areas with affordable housing, officers moving back to areas they were from, the lure of the Metropolitan Police Force and the higher salaries.]


4.       In relation to retention of officers, was flexible working offered, for example for female staff with families, Job Shares? In addition, TVP funded the training of officers, e.g. Firearm officers who then moved to the Metropolitan Police for higher salaries. What can be done to improve retention?


[The PCC agreed with the comments made on retention. TVP generally had a young workforce which causes challenges in terms of retention. Reference was made to the change in pension rules which do not make it beneficial to stay past retirement age. In 25/30 years from time there will be many Forces facing officers retiring at the same time which would be challenging.


In response to a comment regarding ethnicity and workplace gender profile, the PCC commented that TVP’s workforce as almost at 50/50 in terms of gender profile. For ethnicity there was still much work to be done with around 6.2% of the work force being from a BAME background.]


5.       The PCC was asked about the work which was done with Armed Forces’ veterans who were suffering with PTSD and from experiences of the health service and whether TVP could use similar support for Police Officers. Military charities play an important part in supporting Armed Forces’ veterans and in some cases, help turn lives around.


[The PCC replied that there was support from Police charities, but he was not aware what the Force provided for retired Police Officers. The PCC said he would look at the work of the charities.] 


RESOLVED – That the report of the PCC and the information provided at the meeting be noted.

Supporting documents: