‘We asked for workers – they sent us humans’

By Chief Constable Andy Rhodes

Emergency services staff work in an extremely challenging environment and are frequently exposed to traumatic events. Leadership at every level of each service must acknowledge this and ensure that our staff are recognised and valued for the work they do.

There is undoubtedly a great deal of pride in public service which motivates our staff to put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis, and we must match this with support from leadership. This is an essential undertaking, not only in order to be a responsible and caring employer, but also because we as a society have an obligation to look after the welfare of the men and women whose job it is to keep our communities safe.

Our response as a national police working group has been to work with the College of Policing, various police and mental health charities and Public Health England to understand the problem and support employers by providing them with research, funding and guidance on how to improve their response to wellbeing. Introducing, the ‘Blue-Light Wellbeing Framework’ and ‘Oscar Kilo’.

As a result of our work, HMICFRS now inspects all forces on this specific issue and we are at the early stages of what needs to be a massive culture shift – not only for leadership and management to get better at addressing the issues affecting their workforce, but in seeing a change in the way that staff perceive and consider their own physical, mental and social wellbeing.

We have a huge amount to do if we are to reassure our frontline that the service is committed to picking them up when they struggle with their mental and physical health but we have huge support from across the emergency services family.

CC Andy Rhodes Biography

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes joined Lancashire Police in 1991, spending much of his early career in local policing, firearms public order and search. He was promoted to Superintendent in 2001 and has experienced a real variety of leadership roles ranging from operations to corporate change to BCU Command.

He has an MBA , a Post-Grad Certificate in coaching from Lancaster Business School and is Myers Briggs qualified.

He was seconded to KPMG for a period in 2006 during a personally challenging period in his life and almost left policing as a result before regrouping and returning to the job he loves.

He attended SCC in 2011, re-married and applied for ACC that year. He initially took up the territorial ACC post in Lancashire and then Specialist Ops ACC. In 2014 he became Deputy Chief Constable and in June 2017 took up his current role as Chief Constable.

Andy is NPCC lead for Wellbeing and Staff Engagement, Organisational Development as well as the College of Policing professional community chair for OD and International. He regularly carries out peer reviews as part of these roles and has led on the development of a transformational change framework for the College.

Andy has worked with experts in the field of wellbeing to establish the first police-specific wellbeing framework funded by Public Health England and has jointly designed an early intervention model which is soon to be published as a research paper.