What's the purpose of a federation blog? There are a number of blogs around and I confess I had never written one until coming into the federation full time. The Kent Police Federation blog is written by the 'Chair'. It's a mix, in blogging terms, of a personal one and an organisational one. What this means is the subject matter is a mix of policing issues specific or general and a more personal one base around a recent experience of the chair. This mix of approach is quite a useful one although I am considering some changes including having some guest 'bloggers' (subject to the Chair's editorial control!). The subject matter of any guest blog would have to be federation related, whether by other federation reps or by someone who has had contact with the federation for whatever reason, for example.
For this blog and many of those to come, the emphasis is about opening up about what goes on within the federation. I want to increase the understanding of what the federation does for its members and it is a theme I will come back to. I also want to make the blogs a bit shorter, to make them an easier read.
For this one I wanted to summarise where I/we are with officer welfare and workplace stress. This is a vital issue and one which I will continue to highlight. It is important primarily for officer welfare but also for the organisation and the public of Kent. If workplace stress and distress caused by what we have to deal with as officers can be reduced, proactively managed and addressed early, that must be good for all. It will reduce time lost to sickness, which can be lengthy and have a big impact on colleagues and families when it comes to mental-ill health.
PFEW (Police Federation of England and Wales) has recently signed off on a nine point plan for workplace stress. This encourages forces to share data and engage with the federation, to recognise the HSE's stress management approach and to complete the Oscar Kilo assessment framework as well as providing welfare support for officers. I have hugely summarised but what this means for officers is that the stigma of 'stress' is broken down, that it is taken seriously and that the right support is put in place for officers. I want the force to be able to sign up to this plan as soon as possible.
In addition to this, I am working with the force to look at how we can identify, at the earliest opportunity, those officers who are suffering from stress or who have been caused distress by an incident they have dealt with or been involved in. I'm also looking at how we can incorporate the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) stress management standards into our working practices, so the issues are picked up in a way that the process doesn't cause unmanageable additional workloads. I also believe there maybe opportunities to better prepare those who are at the start of their policing careers to what to expect during their service.
Agreement as to what can be done is a long way off yet, but there is an appetite from the force to look at what is being proposed and I welcome this. There is support to look at this work from meetings I have had and I have discussed with both The Chief Constable and the PCC and will continue to engage with them, seeking their support and their suggestions on this issue.
A quick update but an important one!
Kent Police Federation