Chair talks about difficulties in defining trauma

22 Sep, 2021
Police officers need “proper and meaningful help” when they’re suffering from trauma, Cheshire Police Federation has said.

Last week the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW)’s Wellbeing Lead, Hayley Aley, spoke at the Emergency Services Show and pointed out that forces currently do not hold any records about the number of traumatic incidents an officer has attended while on duty. She said collecting this data would help identify officers at risk of mental health problems.

While Cheshire Police Federation Chair James Thompson agreed that more needed to be done to support officers, he said that collecting this data wouldn’t be workable due to the difficulty of defining what a traumatic incident was.
He said: “While some aspects of policing have changed with advances in technology, the vast majority of our core roles haven’t. This includes dealing with incidents that members of the public should never have to see.
“Trauma is a very subjective concept – what is traumatic to one may not be to another. Therefore it would be very difficult to put a label on what is traumatic and what isn’t.
“We should be concentrating on is making it safe for those who need assistance to be able to come forward and get some proper and meaningful help. We shouldn’t judge trauma against some set of standards inevitably written by someone who has never experienced what my colleagues do.”
Hayley said that the national Federation had successfully piloted a scheme of regular mental health check-ups on Fed Reps, and added that this could also work effectively within forces to help all officers’ wellbeing.
She said: “What we want to do is start this conversation more broadly throughout our membership about preventative measures and what they look like on a practical level.”
Jamie Thompson Cheshire Police Federation