It is inevitable that traumatic incidents will occur in policing and it is important to recognise that these may not be viewed, felt or experienced in the same way by everyone. Indeed, individual officers and staff may be surprised by their own responses to such events.

However, organisationally it is essential to have a plan to deal with a range of trauma related situations and responses if policing is to carry out its role in protecting society.

Working in collaboration with Public Health England (PHE), we have conducted a review of existing early intervention approaches, and together with expert practitioners, designed a model that reflects the needs of the emergency services. 

The Trauma and Post Incident Risk Management live service is built around ESTIP and consists of the following components:

  • Phase 1 – Demobilising
  • Phase 2 – Defusing
  • Phase 3 – Emergency Services Trauma Intervention Meeting (ESTIM)
  • Phase 4 – Monitor and Refer
This animation explains our Emergency Services Trauma Intervention Programme (ESTIP). Working through the four phases it gives a clear explanation on how ESTIP can help you and your colleagues deal and process trauma and the interventions involved.

Peer Support

Forces who wish to use ESTIP will have an established Peer Support network and are required to identify an ESTIP lead, with responsibility for overseeing the clinical and organisational governance of the programme within their force. The NPWS will provide on-line, peer support CPD training package to support forces with an existing Peer Support network.

Find out more about our Peer Support model and training here.

What we offer

Phase 1 – Demobilising

Demobilisation is a primary stress prevention conversation that takes place following a traumatic exposure. It involves a short conversation, which lasts around 5-10 minutes. Normally carried out by a Supervisor following a major incident, the role may fall to a suitably trained Peer Supporter. 

Phase 2 – Defusing

Defusing is provided three days after exposure to a traumatic incident. It helps to assess who may need further help and support. Defusing is a small group process; less structured and aimed at the core group affected the most by the incident. Typically, groups of six to eight meet with a Defuser, usually a Line Manager or Peer Supporter to hold a defusing session. Individual one to one sessions can be conducted if required. 

Demobilising and Defusing is a combined, one-day online training course aimed at Peer Supporters and / or line managers.

Phase 3 – Emergency Services Trauma Intervention Meeting ESTIM

Not all traumatic incidents will require an ESTIM intervention. The necessity of an intervention will depend on the nature of the incident and the impact on those involved. In many cases, Demobilising and Defusing sessions will be sufficient. 

The ESTIP Lead will complete an ESTIM Impact Assessment to determine whether an ESTI session is required. An ESTIM intervention should be provided 3-14 days after an incident. 

An ESTIM intervention can be delivered in either a group or individual format, and should be led by trained ESTIM facilitators. Group interventions are the recommended format, as they provide an opportunity to draw on the shared experiences and facilitate social support. Group and individual interventions follow the same structure and basic process, but with some adaptations in implementation. 

An ESTIM intervention focuses on facts, thoughts, reactions and general wellbeing before providing psycho-education and closes with coping strategies and future focus. 

ESTIM training is aimed at people who will be facilitating the meeting, i.e. Peer Supporters, Mental Health Professionals and Occupational Health Services staff.

ESTIM is a face-to-face training course run over four days.

Phase 4 – Monitor and Refer

Individuals who attend an ESTIM intervention will also receive a follow-up two to four weeks later to check recovery and progress. If an individual is still showing signs of trauma they will be referred to their Occupational Health Unit.  This could be in the form of a Psychological Risk Assessment.

Availability and Booking

All elements of our ESTIP training are available as stand-alone packages, but we recommended the organisation completes the training in the following order: 

Peer Support for Wellbeing:

  • Wellbeing Coordinator training course


  • Demobilising and Defusing

Should you feel that your organisation already has some of the appropriate measures in place please contact us for advice. 

All training requests should come through force Wellbeing Leads who should contact the National Police Wellbeing Service with their requirements


Further Reading

Together with the College of Policing, we have published a guidance document ‘Responding to Trauma in Policing’. The document, originally published in 2018, has been updated to reflect the current policing landscape, including responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Written by Dr Ian Hesketh and Dr Noreen Tehrani, this guidance represents a significant step forward in the journey to improve our understanding of how trauma exposure affects those who work in policing.