Operation Hampshire is the Metropolitan Police Service’s initiative to improving their response to assaults on police officers and staff.
The initiative was first introduced this in 2016 picking up on the seven principles introduced by John Apter. It was recognised that there was a real inconsistency in the response to assaults and the dedicated team set about looking at the attrition points and key role players involved to address this issue. They have found there are two distinct themes to the work:
- Initial Supervision and Wellbeing
- Investigation and Criminal Justice
While clearly separate themes they both converge in the overall victim experience.
Chief Inspector David Brewster said: It is important to emphasise the impact of an assault and encourage people to consider impact and not just injury. This is about changing a culture to ensure that our colleagues feel supported and cared for and that they get the support and justice they deserve.
So how have they done this?
To ensure offenders can be held to account and not get away with assaults unnecessarily, it is imperative to get the investigation and evidence right. All officers and staff deserve justice, not as a face of policing, but as an individual. The Op Hampshire team has been working closely with the CPS to understand where cases have failed and where both sides can improve.
With clear support from the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, Op Hampshire has momentum, enthusiasm and initiative which puts them in a very strong and privileged position to make a real difference.
In the past 12 months the team have built some strong foundations on the supervision, wellbeing and criminal justice elements of the project and are in a much stronger place compared to their original launch in 2016. They have invested their time heavily in communication, socialising the issue and listening to concerns which has seen the introduction of blogs, forums, articles and a poster campaign.
Op Hampshire is becoming a brand and is now considered the standard for the response to an assault on one of our colleagues. The guidance and processes are far more established providing a strong platform for people to work from.
A new intranet page provides roles, responsibilities, guidance and “game changers” for everyone. Providing information for officers and victims to help understand how an incident should be handled. Feedback helps with the development of the project.
Messages and directions are also cascaded through Senior Leaders, SPOCS, and frontline officers across the force and they have developed a broad network of Champions made up of police staff, PCs and Sergeants.
Op Hampshire Champions
The Op Hampshire Champions are a network of enthusiastic volunteers who take time out of their busy schedules to improve the Met’s response to assaults on members of the extended Police Family. They have a keen interest in the adoption, implementation, and success of the guidance and procedures across their area of influence. These engaged employees, are advocates for Op Hampshire, and seek to overcome internal barriers to change. There are currently around 270 across the Met.
A great champion will make a difference because they are:
- Passionate about helping colleagues.
- Driven to make a difference.
- Able to give time and resources to undertake meaningful activities.
- Willing to engage colleagues constructively and positively to affect change.
- Keen to spread the word about Op Hampshire.
- Able to empower colleagues to share their experiences and encourage others to become Champions.
What can they do to help?
- Raise awareness of Op Hampshire, its policies and procedures.
- Coming up with innovative ideas and putting them in to practise.
- Look for gaps in our policies and provide ideas and solutions to fill them.
- Be approachable about concerns.
- Ensure that victim care standards are applied.
- Provide insight into the day-to-day challenges which prevent procedures being followed.
- Signposting victims for welfare support.
- Change culture being assaulted is never ‘part of the job’.
Welfare and Support
The results of a survey taken by officers and staff who had been assaulted over the past 12-18 months gave the team a chance to identified some very common themes. What became clear is that longer term welfare support and contact are important – there are no quick fixes to the deeper issues, they need to be properly thought through.
Physical injuries and rehabilitation can usually be addressed but some longer term injuries can have an adverse impact on mental health. Without good leadership and meaningful support people can become detached, isolated and de-motivated.
Being assaulted can also have a massive impact psychologically so it’s really important to have processes in place to recognise and care for colleagues that are affected that way, as it can impact their individual confidence and family life.
The survey also highlighted the frustration felt by many, knowing that an assault is being taken seriously and that someone has been held to account can help people come to terms with it. The team are now monitoring local performance for positive outcomes, cases discontinued and progress on offenders who have been released under investigation to ensure that these crimes are being actively pursued.
Op Hampshire in 2020
Focussing on historical problems has helped understand the issues. Building on that progress the team plan to move forward and encourage positive thinking, saying “This is what we do for our colleagues” instead of “what’s the point? it’s always been that way”.
To continue to improve and make a difference, officers and staff need to do the right thing for their colleagues and be empowered to challenge others when necessary. Local Senior Leadership Teams should be supportive when issues are raised and The Op Hampshire Team will continue to work in the background, escalating issues and reviewing cases when required.
During the coming months they are focussing on Criminal Justice, with a goal of improving the chances of justice and researching IT solutions to help supervisors follow the process and find ways to reduce offences through analysis.
They have recently expanded the remit to include Hate Crime.
Every assault counts, every assault matters, not just because of the impact on the victim but on policing as a profession. The Op Hampshire team are assisting other emergency services to introduce Op Hampshire into their own organisations through the Blue Light Collaboration project ensuring a joined up approach which will strengthen the message collectively.