Traumatic exposures can have a significant personal and organisational impact and have become common occurrences in the work of the Police and other emergency services in the UK.  The College of Policing are working alongside Public Health England and the British Psychological Society to explore the evidence base for effective post-trauma responses for staff working in organisations such as the Emergency Services.  

In Phase 1 of this project, a wide-ranging scoping review was conducted to identify previous research which evaluated the use of early interventions following exposure to primary or secondary trauma for emergency response, military and humanitarian aid personnel. The review concluded that early interventions support emergency responders following exposure to trauma when: tailored to the needs of the population, are supported by the host organisation, and harness existing social cohesion and peer support processes within a team or unit. 

We are now working on Phase 2 of this project, which will develop a shared early intervention model, which will provide UK forces with a robust, evidence-based yet flexible approach to early trauma interventions.  The approach is anticipated to include the following elements: provision of acknowledgement, social support and practical guidance in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic exposure; supervisor and peer delivered support in the first 3-5 days following a traumatic incident; proportional trauma-focussed debriefing for individuals and groups involved in same incident, and the development of tools and guidance for making appropriate referrals to Occupational Health, General Practitioner and others as appropriate.

The resulting early intervention model will be adaptable to meet the needs of officers and staff involved in incidents ranging from an attack or traumatic exposure affecting an individual officer to a major crisis or disaster involving hundreds of officers and staff.  A key consideration of this initiative is the development of a shared early intervention model for joint operations that are being created in firearms, negotiations, family liaison, traffic and other areas of policing.

For more information about the project, please contact Dr Ian Hesketh on:

Ian.Hesketh@college.pnn.police.uk