Last year in Sussex we were asked to help with our dogs during the police wellbeing weeks 7th-20th October 2019. We managed to get teams of our dogs to visit Eastbourne, Hailsham and Hastings police stations. It was great comfort for some of the officers then. It was so well received that this year for their Wellbeing week, 21st-27th October 2020, we were asked again, this time we were invited to the Sussex HQ in Lewes, two stations in Brighton, as well as Eastbourne, Shoreham and Worthing.
At this time when many of us have been feeling frustrated and unable to visit our normal places, we were pleased to help. The police are going through an even harder time coping with the frustrations of the general public and getting lots of abuse either in person or down the phone. The feedback we have got from them is gratefulness and thanks. Due to the restrictions we could only have 2 members and 4 police staff in the room at any time, making that magic number of 6 people, so most visits were for about 10 minutes, but even those 10 minutes away from the phones gave them great relief.
The University of Cambridge’s study, the job & the life , funded by Police Care UK, 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.
90% of police personnel will be exposed to repeated trauma during their career, and the lack of specialist treatment is compounding the impact on health and wellbeing. This has a cumulative effect on their overall health and wellbeing, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, anxiety, and immune disorders such as IBS.
Added to this, a police officer dies by suicide every two weeks and research published by the Police Federation of England and Wales shows that more than 79% of serving police have experienced stress and anxiety in the last twelve months.
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.”
So hopefully Canine Concern have been part of that change. I have had several members ask if we are going to do police visits in their area as they are interested.
While we are quiet with other visits we can atleast help our police force.