Through Operation Hampshire we want to make sure our colleagues get the support and justice they deserve if they are assaulted on duty. Everyone has a part to play in the process. It often means going the extra yard or investing time to get it right. But supervision is key and that extra yard will make all the difference.
The importance of five minutes …
With many things at present, it seems there simply isn’t enough time in the day. Priorities and pressures change and we recognise that front line supervision is already a very demanding job.
With all of this, it is easy to jump quickly from one priority to another but we need to take a moment to consider the importance of paying attention to detail. The difference between saving five minutes and spending five minutes can have a huge impact on your colleagues.
The following is provided notwithstanding the fact that some incidents will be very clearly high risk, traumatic events which will automatically trigger a high level response.
The following may sound obvious to many but the experience and approach of front line supervisors varies hugely. Some pointers may help with an initial wellbeing assessment. The list is not exhaustive but offers up some key considerations.
- This is about impact, not just injury. The key here is ensuring you consider both the verbal and non-verbal responses.
- Consider the environment and timing? Privacy and subtlety are important. Taking an interest in wellbeing should be something our colleagues get used to but doesn’t need to be an overt display.
- Just asking “are you okay”? and spending the time to listen to the answer?
- Repeat victim? How many times has this person been assaulted or abused recently? This could lead to a deeper level of review and identify areas for support that may not be obviously apparent?
- Time and space. Do they need a breather, time to get their mind straight and re-set? Manage responsibilities, paperwork, best evidence. Allow them time to decompress?
- Injuries? Sounds obvious but have a tendency to dismiss ourselves as victims and don the tough exterior. Do they need medical treatment?
- Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses (BBV). Where an incident/assault has potentially exposed a colleague to a risk of a blood crosscontamination they should be informed of the availability of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) at the earliest opportunity. It is essential that this is an immediate consideration for any treatment which may be by way of postexposure prophylaxis at a local designated hospital to be effective and within 72 hours and support should be provided in receiving any necessary treatment. The process for access at a hospital or clinic to post-exposure prophylaxis will vary from forces to force. If local guidance is not readily accessible, your occupational health, health & safety or PFEW representative may be the best point of reference for advice.
- Capability? Consider the obvious (injury or head injury) but also consider the impact on the ability to concentrate and function clearly after an incident.
- Initial reflection. What happened?
- Re-exposure. Do they need to get straight back out? Consider that balance between operational and individual needs.
- Consider the wider associated impact on colleagues and team members. Assaults can bring home realities to those who have yet to be triggered.
- Consider tailoring the wellbeing response and signposting the victim to support that is specific to them. This could be through Oscar Kilo and the range of wellbeing and resilience options. The federation or union or via one of your local staff associations for support.
- Don’t force it. Remember that we all respond differently and many police colleagues have got used to a culture of accepting things as they are. This takes time but being supported in this way needs to be something our colleagues get used to. We’re not wrapping people in cotton wool but we are changing a culture where we accept that our wellbeing as police officers and staff is important.