Report shows ‘clear progress’ on the Police Covenant

“Clear progress” is being made on the Police Covenant, according to the first annual report of the Oversight Board.

May 24, 2023
By Paul Jacques

Of the original 11 objectives, three have now been completed and signed off and a further three priorities have been agreed for the coming year.

There is a legal requirement on the Government to report annually to Parliament on issues relating to police welfare, wellbeing and support. The primary focus of the Covenant is on ensuring the health and wellbeing of members and former members of the police workforce, their physical protection and the support required by members of their families.

The work under the Covenant to consider issues raised in the Officer and Staff Safety Review has been met through the changes to legislation around assaults on emergency workers brought in by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

The workstream to support officers and staff who are victims of assaults through Operation Hampshire has also been implemented, with data collection on these assaults now a key part of recording practices.

The third and final completed area of work is the inclusion of mental health training for new officers in initial training, as part of the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) developed by the College of Policing.

The three new areas of work agreed by the Oversight Board for the coming year are:

  • Identify and implement a package of measures for individuals who have left the police workforce;
  • Scope the current support in place in relation to healthcare pathways for the police workforce through further NHS Engagement; and
  • Consider wider issues around police officer and staff safety at the roadside and propose non legislative options to improve safety

The Oversight Board said “clear progress” has been made on the priorities over the past year.

“Following the work of the Front Line Review, work has been progressed on identifying and tackling organisational stressors to help reduce unnecessary demands on officers and staff,” it added.

To keep track of progress, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services will be reviewing wellbeing and occupational health in its annual PEEL inspection programme this year.

The Covenant, for the first time, has begun to assess the needs of police families. Research into the needs of family members has been commissioned by the College of Policing and is due to begin formally reporting in the spring of 2023.

In order for all those who are covered by the Covenant to be aware of what it will offer to them, the Home Office and the College of Policing have begun to implement a communications plan to explain the work that underpins it and what tangible benefits this will provide.

“This has included consulting stakeholders on branding and messaging to ensure that we reach a wide audience as the Covenant develops,” said the Home Office. “The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), on behalf of all chief constables, has also publicly pledged to support the aims and outcomes of the Covenant, confirming this commitment at the Police Bravery Awards in July 2022.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales, the Police Superintendents’ Association and Unison, in partnership with Chief Constable Chris Rowley, the National Police Wellbeing Service , the NPCC and the other members of the Oversight Board are working to identify any gaps in the current priorities for issues that are related to the Covenant, which currently fall outside of its scope.

Through a report presented to the Oversight Board in January 2023, the staff associations and other policing bodies have begun work on suggestions to how the Covenant can improve the lives of their members and to highlight linked issues which are being tackled through frameworks outside of the Covenant.

The need to address issues relating to the physical and mental health of the police workforce is a key component of the ongoing work, says the Home Office.

A Clinical Governance Group, supported by medical, scientific and policy experts, has been created to support the Chief Medical Officer for police and make progress on work on occupational health standards and suicide prevention.

Training for GPs on the specific needs of patients from the police workforce has also been delivered with more training sessions planned for this year and 2024.

The honours and memorials landscape has been reviewed to ensure that the police workforce are adequately recognised and rewarded for their role in keeping the public safe.

The Home Office has completed a research project identifying what forces are doing in the area of honours and medals. Further work is planned to increase the use of the honours system and to take steps to improve the process for forfeiture to guard against any risk of denigration of the value of medals and honours.

In October, the Home Office will also consider proposals for enhancing the awards structure for police staff, including considering whether new formal medals should be created.

The Oversight Board says it will continue to review all priorities throughout the year to consider any further points to add, or the potential combining of priorities.

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