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Retired officer suicides going "unnoticed", says NARPO


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The chief executive of NARPO has said the lack of data on retired officer suicides stops them getting the support they need.


Date - 23rd September 2020
By - Chloe Livadeas

The National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO) advocate for the welfare of retired officers, and says the support they receive is insufficient, often leaving them to rely on charities for help.

While there is an increasing national awareness that the mental wellbeing of retired officers is often harmed by their career, data on suicides is not held by the College of Policing or the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Now Steve Edwards, NARPO CEO, said it was “critical” that these suicides are properly recorded so the scale of the problem can be realised in order to tackle it.

“NARPO is concerned that data collected on police suicides does not differentiate between retired and active police officers. A career in the police is filled with stress and trauma but too often, it’s only after an officer retires that mental health and wellbeing issues become evident,” he said.

“This is why it’s critical that data on police suicides goes further to provide this level of detail.

“Without this data, the scale of the issue will continue to go unnoticed, denying retired police officers of the support and help that they deserve.”

The College said monitoring the numbers of retired officers who commit suicide to better understand the support that they might need once they retire could be required in the forthcoming Police Covenant.

The Police Federation said that while there were no firm plans to put in place procedures to better monitor numbers of suicides within the Covenant, it did not rule it out. 

The Home Secretary announced at the Police Superintendents’ Conference in September last year that she would launch a public consultation on the Police Covenant, focusing on health and wellbeing, physical protection and support for families.

A total of 1,113 questionnaire responses were received, 201 of which were from retired police officers, 18 per cent of the total responses.

Some themes identified in the responses were fast access to medical care as a priority and “patchy” and unequal provision of occupational health services among forces.

A draft of the final consultation on the Covenant, published yesterday (22 September) read: “Respondents told us that the issues identified above do not end at retirement. Many of the respondents who described themselves as retired reported flashbacks to incidents from their career which caused ongoing mental health issues, with no access to dedicated support.”

Mr Edwards said: “NARPO responded to the Government’s consultation earlier in the year and we are delighted that the Home Office has recognised the cumulative effect of a career in the police and that these issues do not end at retirement. We particularly welcome the emphasis on parity between physical and mental health. For too long retired police officers have not had access to dedicated support when mental health and wellbeing issues have arisen.

“We sincerely hope that this will make a real difference to serving and retired officers and their families and we look forward to working with the Government to ensure it offers real and tangible support to those it covers.”

An officer is likely to experience between 400 to 600 traumatic events in their career, while the average person will encounter three or four in their lifetime. A Freedom of Information Request to all forces revealed almost 10,000 officers needed to take time off for stress, depression and PTSD in the past year. Read the full article: https://www.policeoracle.com/news/best_practice/2020/Sep/23/failing-the-stress-test--_105777.html

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