Protecting the protectors

Since 2011, psychologists at the University of Birmingham have been researching the psychological wellbeing of staff in the criminal justice system who are exposed to traumatic material on a regular basis.

We are continuing this research with the first longitudinal study to date. In addition, we have several studies completed on the psychological wellbeing of front-line emergency services personnel.

How it works

These professionals do an incredible job and are often very resilient in terms of what they must cope with. Our goal is to better understand which parts of their role are the most challenging in terms of their wellbeing, how they cope, and what characterises resilience so we can translate this knowledge into real-world interventions to prevent harm and promote resilience.

Having conducted many interviews with professionals in these roles, we wanted to document their experiences and their voices in two video resources. On the basis of our findings, we co-produced two videos with the input of our collaborators and clinical and organisational psychologists. One explains the impact of working with this sort of material, and the other how analysts and secondary investigators try to cope with this and how they feel organisations can help.

We would like organisations to be able to use these video resources to start conversations about wellbeing and mental health with their employees (including new recruits), or to raise awareness with senior management.

Please do talk to us before using the videos as it is important that they precede concrete action in an organisation rather than being shown to people without follow-on work. 

It is important for our future work and funding that we can record who is using them and how, therefore please let us know via a quick email if and how you use them.

Should you wish to receive hard copies of the videos for use in training, please fill out the form on the University of Birmingham's website to be sent a download of each video.

Following the 2022 Week of Action, we have had a number of colleagues volunteer to support our Secondary Investigator and Analyst Wellbeing Sub Group including a vast array of roles from crime analysts to typists.  Together we have been able to develop further tools to help support forces in managing their wellbeing, including the newly launched infographic of useful workplace strategies.  They have also developed a pair of checklists, for organisational support and supervisory support, that encourage embedding practical steps into recruitment, induction and beyond.  We encourage colleagues to review the infographics and checklists and implement the recommendations within to improve the recruitment, retention and wellbeing of these key roles.

Top tips for implementation

Tip 1
Use the videos as a way of starting discussions about what wellbeing provision is needed in the organisation.
Tip 2
Use staff networks and unions to help engage harder to reach groups such as analysts and secondary investigators.
Tip 3
Embed into training, including induction sessions, for staff in these roles.
Budget required

Ease of implementation

Impact on investigators