Welfare support officers

Welfare support officers (WSOs) are willing volunteers from a cross section of policing disciplines and ranks who support those who are subject to misconduct processes.  Managed by professional standards, the WSO provide support throughout the investigation, including any formal misconduct proceedings.

How it works

We sought expressions of interest via our intranet, ensuring volunteers were supported by senior management. The WSOs have an initial one day course and then an annual CPD refresher day consisting of inputs from HR/occupational health, Federation/unions, IOPC, professional standards, and force hostage negotiators. This training gives an overview of the following key areas:

  • understanding the role and expectations
  • misconduct process from initial investigation through to the hearing
  • mental health awareness and care provision
  • the role of IOPC

Professional standards (PSD) has introduced a risk assessment reporting process which is triggered on every new gross misconduct matter where notices are served and where there is a concern for safety. This process stems from cases encountered in the past where, upon receiving a regulation notice, the staff member has expressed mental health concerns or thoughts of self-harm.

The process prompts the PSD investigator to consider issues such as critical markers on addresses and vehicles, the appointment of a WSO, and liaison with the respective line managers for additional support such as occupational health referrals. On completion, a copy of the form is held with the force incident manager in a secure folder, so that should there be an incident out of hours, there is an effective means of retrieving information quick time.

Top tips for implementation

Tip 1
Use volunteers who are willing to commit to at least two years and ensure ongoing welfare support is also in place for the WSOs themselves.
Tip 2
Plan annual CPD, utilising expertise from occupational health, IOPC, unions / Federation and negotiators.
Tip 3
Have a clear risk assessment process in place which provides rationale on WSO provision, including the reasons for not deploying if that is what the member of staff desires.
Budget required


Ease of implementation


Impact on investigators


Links to resources

Welfare support officers’s agreement 
Download agreement
Welfare support officer brochure 
Download brochure
Welfare support officer training itinerary 
Download training itinerary
Welfare support officer contact report 
Download contact report
PSD risk assessment 
Download risk assessment