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NPCC welfare lead says COVID-19 highlighted importance of wellbeing

Lancashire?s Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said the low sickness levels from forces throughout the pandemic has highlighted how wellbeing should be at the forefront of policing and not an ?afterthought".
Published - 27/08/2020 By - Chloe Livadeas

CC Rhodes is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Organisational Development and Wellbeing.

Speaking on Tuesday (25 August) at a virtual conference hosted by Oscar Kilo, Policing through a pandemic: the impact of technology on wellbeing, CC Rhodes said the pandemic has pushed welfare to the top of employers' minds.

“COVID is demonstrating that it should be at the forefront of everything we do as an organisation and not as an afterthought,” he said.  

“It’s clear that actually our staff are going above and beyond if you look at the absence levels in policing in this country.  They are staying at work and continuing to work in very, very difficult circumstances. Will that good will run out?”

He said that was possible if investment in wellbeing was not maintained going forward.

CC Rhodes went on to say: “I do actually think that there is a little bit of complacency in general society, particularly around blue light workers, that they will always keep doing what they've always done. I'm not sure that’s something that we should be complacent about.

“People can and will and do remove their discretionary effort. Discretionary effort saves lives, and it keeps society safe.”

Initial fears that the pandemic would cause a detrimental dent in the frontline nationally never became a reality 

The NPCC said today (27 August) that forces continue to benefit from a low officer and staff absence figure of 4.7 per cent across the UK.

Oscar Kilo's conference heard the pros and cons from police officers and staff of the use of technology to facilitate remote working during the pandemic.

CC Rhodes said: "We've tended to invest the vast majority of our money in operational focus technology rather than technology that's designed to suit our workforce and support their well being. And I think what's happened is COVID has amplified and accelerated some of the things that we have really struggled to land culturally in policing and one of those is flexible working."

CC Rhodes said the use of technology to connect the workforce during the pandemic had helped with workload and allowed to personalised support to be given individuals.

“Actually what we've seen is a load of non-value work being stripped out. And technology has got the ability to sustain some of that - use of robotics and all the different things that we've probably not been using enough of in policing which have been around a very long time.

“When we're looking at sustaining the benefits of using technology and wellbeing, it actually could completely change the shape of our capital programme - where we spend our money."

He added: “I do think as long as we don't snap back to our old ways, which we do tend to do, the benefits far outweigh the negatives in terms of exploiting technology for wellbeing.”

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