Improving how police officers and staff are looked after by Gloucestershire Constabulary will improve the service members of the public receive from the force.

That is the message from Sarah Johnson, Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation, (pictured) who has been speaking of the importance of looking after the wellbeing and health of her members.

As well as Gloucestershire Constabulary signing up to the Mind Blue Light Pledge in November – where the force has committed to challenge mental health stigma and promote positive wellbeing within the service – the force is now focussing on the wellbeing of officers and staff and supportive leadership throughout the organisation.

Moves Sarah is cautiously optimistic about.

“With all the cutbacks and fewer financial resources and less people, we need to make sure that we’re looking after the resources we’ve got, the people that we’ve got,” said Sarah.

“By looking after people and by making sure their needs are considered, and if any support is needed, that it’s given to them, they will be able to maintain the levels that they give to the public. Each and every member of Gloucestershire Constabulary is passionate about what they do and they want to deliver.”

Regards the Mind Mental Health pledge, Sarah said:

“There’s an awful lot of work that needs to be done to make sure that that actually means something. We have approximately 40 mental health first aiders trained in the force, and this is an initiative that was brought about by the Federation locally and organised by the Federation, making sure that the staff throughout the whole organisation, both police officers and police staff, know that there is somewhere to go if somebody is suffering.

“It also enables mental health first aiders to actually see if there is somebody who needs a little bit of help so they don’t become too unwell so they can’t go to work and maybe signpost them to additional support as and when it’s needed. So it’s a really exciting time to see these initiatives starting to come to fruition. But it’s still early days.”

And so other than signing up to a pledge, what other work is the force doing to look after its officers and staff?

“In terms of the wellbeing in the force, there are four strands,” said Sarah. “There’s physical health, there’s the environment, there’s mental health and there is ‘good working relationships’.

“So, it includes anything that would assist making sure we have an environment people want to work in, that is not toxic, that has the equipment that is needed so that officers can do your job. ‘Physical’ is making sure people are physically fit and to encourage a healthier workforce. The mental health side is supporting people who are maybe under a little bit more stress and anxiety than they should be, whether it’s through work, whether it’s home life, whether it’s a combination of the two, because the two obviously impact on each other. And then positive working relationships so that you’re working together as a team.”

She added:

“Supportive leadership is about looking after your staff, it’s about promoting good management to put wellbeing at the centre of everything, because by doing so you’re able to serve the public well because you’ve got a healthy team around you, rather than being completely task focussed.”