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Police Care UK calls for a dedicated mental health strategy tackling trauma-related stress in UK policing.

Police Care UK has today called on police chiefs and the health authorities across the UK to co-develop a national strategy that tackles the serious mental health issues affecting police officers and staff, and volunteers across the UK.

This follows the publication of the University of Cambridge’s study, the job & the life , funded by Police Care UK, which shows that nearly 20% of frontline personnel in the UK are currently suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder or complex-post-traumatic stress disorder , and more re-experiencing traumatic incidents or suffering from fatigue and anxiety as a result of their job.

Police Care UK Chief Executive, Gill Scott-Moore said, “These findings show that the trauma that police officers and staff are exposed to on a daily basis is having a detrimental effect on their health. As yet, there is no comprehensive strategy to tackle the issue of mental health in policing, and that has to change.”

The report, published today, shows that there are real issues around the treatment of mental health injuries, a service-wide stigma about seeking help for mental health issues, and a lack of understanding about the effects of trauma exposure in policing.

Gill Scott-Moore added, “The service has real challenges around recognising and responding to the signs and symptoms of trauma exposure and is heavily reliant upon generic NHS provision that isn’t equipped for the specialist treatment needed. That’s why we believe that policing cannot fix this alone – it needs to be considered a major health issue by public health authorities across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, with a unified approach to tackling it made a priority and funding for treatment needs to be made available by government”

With more than fifty employers covering policing in the UK, all of whom have a different approach, there is a postcode lottery when it comes to attitudes towards those exposed to trauma, access to treatment, and the dignity shown to people experiencing trauma related stress.

Trauma exposure is consistent across the UK, so why isn’t access to care and treatment? Given over 300,000 personnel work in policing, with more former personnel who are still living with the impact of trauma exposure, Police Care UK believes this constitutes a major health issue that is yet to be addressed.

Police Care UK therefore urges the health authorities in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to work across policing to develop a policing mental health strategy that addresses the fundamental issues around trauma exposure, delivers consistent pathways to appropriate treatment, and tackles the stigma within the service.

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