HR advice to police officers on seasonal hazards labelled ‘patronising’

Police officers have branded HR advice about slippery leaves in autumn, icy roads in winter and bright sunshine as “patronising”.

Officers from the second largest force, the West Midlands, said the advice given by its personnel committee in an attempt to prevent accidents was “more suited to children”.

The report from the committee revealed the number of accidents involving its officers had increased from 787 in 2002 -03 to 1,411 in 2008-09.

Slips, trips and falls made up 23% of total accidents in autumn and winter, and 17% in spring and summer. A further 822 officers were injured following assaults last year.

Andy Gilbert, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, told Police Review the advice was patronising and missed the real reasons behind why officers were getting injured.

He said: “Keeping officers safe would best be served by making sure staff are properly equipped and that the staff levels are high enough so there are not any shortages.

“No-one has ever come to me and said: ‘I have been injured because no-one told me it was going to rain’ or that ‘the sun would get in my eyes’.”

Fiona McEvoy, West Midlands campaign agent for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “Police managers should be subject to a lot more public accountability to cut out this kind of nonsense.”

The report said: “As the winter approaches, a campaign dedicated to slips, trips and falls and adverse weather conditions will be introduced in November based on safety awareness posters. The other seasons introduce their own seasonal risk, for example heat stress in the summer and impaired visibility through sunshine; in autumn, slippery surfaces due to leaves, sun at low point in sky affecting visibility; and in spring, sudden downpours.”

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “As the primary causation factor, it is incumbent on the force to take action to reduce the numbers of injuries occurring from these incidents, especially throughout the autumn/winter seasons.”

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