Forces across England and Wales are now in better place to support officers and staff going through the menopause, with the launch of force guidance on the matter – a first for policing which shows commitment on a national level to take the menopause, its symptoms and those who suffer from it, more seriously.

The guidance was produced by a working group of strategic stakeholders in policing. They commissioned a survey aimed at officers and staff, the results of which were published earlier this year, the results provided the evidence to establish this much needed guidance for the police service.

Nearly half of respondents (44%) who found their symptoms extremely problematic have considered quitting the force as a result.

A number of respondents said they would be too embarrassed to discuss symptoms with their line manager and believe they would be treated differently in a negative way if they did disclose, as it could be seen as a sign of weakness.

Hayley Aley, a women’s lead for Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Up until now there has only been anecdotal evidence on just how much the menopause affects officers and staff in the police service. This guidance will make a difference to so many and I sincerely hope this work paves the way for colleagues in the other emergency services to get support.”

Chief Constable Carl Foulkes, the national lead for Gender at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “I genuinely believe that the launch of this guidance is a huge step forward for policing.

“The demographic of the police workforce across the UK is changing, with an increasing number of female colleagues, and an aging workforce in key frontline roles as well as other roles in our organisations. There are clear health and safety implications for women, their colleagues, and the general public, if we do not support, understand and deal with menopause issues properly.”

The results were shocking, yet not surprising – a vast majority (76%) who had either gone through or were going through the menopause admitted they had found symptoms either moderately or extremely problematic at work, with more than eight out of 10 agreeing tiredness and sleep disturbances were having a detrimental effect.

In England and Wales, around a third of female police officers are aged 45 or over, therefore the menopause presents an important occupational health issue that has the potential to affect thousands of people within the police service and should not be seen as a niche problem.

The National Menopause Guidance which is designed to help support and advise individuals, line managers, senior leaders and occupational health advisors is available to download from www.polfed.org/menopause – links to the national headline findings and force level reports are on the same page.