Anti-stress scheme boosts health and morale of City of London police: Wellbeing

The City of London police force said it had improved job satisfaction, staff morale and the overall health of its workforce since introducing an anti-stress initiative in 2003.

The force launched the ‘Quality of Working Life’ scheme to assess the main causes of stress and to develop a strategy to tackle it, focusing on issues such as work-life balance and staff commitment.

It rolled out a series of workplace programmes and initiatives to alleviate stress and improve work-life balance, including the introduction of a flexible working policy, employee communication reviews and active performance management.

An internal audit in September 2005, the results of which were unveiled last week, revealed that employees now had higher levels of job satisfaction, commitment and improved psychological and physical health.

Carolyn Woolley, HR services director at City of London Police, said: “Policing involves a great deal of pressure on a daily basis for officers and staff. High levels of absenteeism, including that due to stress, increase the pressure on all staff, which can potentially lead to a drop in employee motivation, staff morale and, ultimately, performance.”

Professor Cary Cooper, director of business psychologists Robertson Cooper, which ran the initiative for City of London, said: “Wellbeing has now become a bottom-line issue for organisations. If they actively manage it, they can start to see the benefits.”
The company is working with a further 15 police forces to implement the scheme.

Police stress

Around 250,000 days were lost across the UK police forces in 2004-05 due to stress-related illness, costing around 40m a year, according
to Home Office figures.

The Health and Safety Executive, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Police Forum held a stress workshop in Manchester last month to look at the underlying causes of stress. Representatives from 38 of the 51 police forces in the UK attended.

Jan Berry, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Chief police officers need to do all they can to minimise the impact of stress and provide support where necessary.”

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Consultation begins on new code of standards

Equality, accountability and professionalism are at the heart of a new Code of Professional Standards for the police service, according to Home Office minister Hazel Blears.

She was speaking last week as the government launched a three-month consultation into the new guidance, which will replace the “outdated” Code of Conduct.

She said the new code – the result of last year’s Taylor Review into police discipline – would ensure that every police officer understands the high standards demanded of them by the public.

“Effective policing relies on the police having the confidence of the communities they serve, and this consultation gives the public an opportunity to contribute to the values and standards they expect of police officers,” Blears said.

The guidance provides information on both on- and off-duty conduct, and warns that even when they are off duty, police officers “should never behave in a manner that brings, or is likely to bring, discredit upon the service”.

It also includes a new principle on the values of fairness and equality following recommendations from the Commission for Racial Equality. This includes a duty on supervisors to support the promotion of equality.

Paul West, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ professional standards committee, said: “Publication of this new code and its associated guidance will clarify for everyone’s benefit the standards of behaviour and conduct that police officers aim to abide by.”

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