Home Secretary hosts first Police Covenant Board meeting

Family doctors are to be given extra training around the role of the police and the trauma officers face to help them provide more appropriate care as part of the new Police Covenant.

Jul 14, 2021
By Tony Thompson

Home Secretary Priti Patel, together with senior policing leaders including the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), will join the first Police Covenant Board meeting to oversee the implementation of the Police Covenant today (July 14).

Delivering on the Government’s manifesto commitment, the Police Covenant will provide officers with long term-support and protection to carry out their duties, with a focus on health and wellbeing, physical safety and support for families.

Police forces across the country will be given a unified set of standards to adhere to protect the physical and mental health of officers. The National Police Wellbeing Service is working with forces to ensure the new standards are attainable.

Among the guidelines are a requirement for occupational health staff to “have the knowledge, skills, qualifications, experience, training, capacity and motivation for the tasks they perform”.

In addition, forces must show new recruits the help available to them when they join to prevent officers suffering in silence. The guidelines also stipulate that chief constables must have agreements in place with specialists to help on a range of issues.

Under the Covenant, police officers exposed to trauma from horrific crime scenes, child sexual abuse investigations and violent criminals will be more likely to be sent for one-to-one counselling than group sessions.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) will also be given new powers to ensure forces are properly protecting the physical and mental health of officers.

At today’s meeting, the Home Secretary will praise the bravery, commitment and sacrifices of those who work or have worked in policing and discuss how this will be better recognised over the next year, including the proposal to appoint a Chief Medical Officer for Policing in England and Wales.

The Covenant is being put into law through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Bill also includes provisions to double the maximum sentence for assaults on emergency workers – including police officers – to two years.

Ms Patel said:  “I have been resolute in my determination to ensure that the police have the support they need in order to carry out their duties to protect the public. This is an absolute priority for me.

“The new Police Covenant will recognise the dangers and the harms they face each day as they undertake their duties. We should always acknowledge the bravery and the sacrifices of our police officers and the covenant will demonstrate our duty as a nation to helping those who serve our country and specifically to recognise the bravery, commitment, and sacrifices of those who work or have worked in policing.”

The board will agree to:

  • Ensure Occupational Health Standards are embedded in all forces;
  • Consider the potential benefit of a new Chief Medical Officer for Policing in England and Wales;
  • Review what a good support model for families looks like, drawing on established good practice;
  • Develop training for GPs around the role of the police; and
  • Develop pre-deployment mental health support for the police workforce.

Ms Patel added: “As Home Secretary, I am determined to work tirelessly to keep protecting our police force, who work diligently every day to keep people safe and bring crime down.

“This Police Covenant group will transform the support we offer across our police forces. It is right that the Covenant will apply to everyone involved in policing, from staff, volunteers and those who have retired, as well as serving officers.”

John Apter, PFEW national chair, said: “The Police Covenant is something I believe passionately about, and I am incredibly proud this is finally turning into reality. We have worked long and hard on the creation of a Covenant to ensure it benefits all police officers, staff, volunteers, their families, and our retired colleagues.

“The first meeting of the Covenant Board is an important step forward and I look forward to playing my part in ensuring the Covenant is meaningful and tangible for all our members and their families.”

The Board will meet every quarter to ensure the long-term success of the Police Covenant and deliver agreed outcomes and monitoring progress.

Those attending the meeting alongside the Home Office include the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Police Superintendents’ Association, the PFEW, Unison, the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association and the Welsh government.

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