Weaponising and Welfare, COVID:19 – A View from the blue line
There have been real changes to people’s lives during COVID:19, not least to those who are considered key workers.
The challenge of maintaining personal wellbeing at work can be both physically difficult and psychologically demanding. The challenge in Policing has been to maintain a balance between supporting key physical distancing messages and delivering a service to the public which responds to the needs of people. In delivering this service, Police Officers and staff face equally complex balances between supporting physical distancing and maintaining their own wellbeing, in order that they too do not become ill with the virus. This becomes acutely problematic when COVID:19 becomes the weapon of choice to repel, assault, verbally abuse or injure those attempting to deliver Policing activity. There have been various media reporting of this, and the Police Federation, Crown Prosecution Service, and Police Forces have been active in highlighting this increasingly dangerous aspect of Police work and the sentences handed down to those perpetrating this activity. It is because of this that we have focussed a study on the wellbeing of Police Officers and Staff.
Within much of the media reporting, the method of these weaponised acts is spitting. This is distinctly dangerous because the virus manifests within the lungs and throat; the likely transmission of COVID:19 is therefore high for those with the virus. However, other reported methods include verbalised threats, purposeful coughing, and directly entering the safe space around Officers and Staff.
There may be other recognisable acts which take place but are neither reported within the media or recorded as crimes or incidents. As the response and measures taken to control the spread of COVID:19 changes, so do the policing challenges and the job of trying to keep people safe. The continued threat, or being victim to weaponised COVID:19, could manifest in personal wellbeing changes. For example, a loss of sleep, increased feelings of anxiety, or the inability to care for a vulnerable person due to fears of having contracted the virus. This could be true of any profession; however, we would like to hear from Police Officers and Staff about their experiences so that we better understand the effects on their wellbeing.
We would welcome Police Officers and Staff to participate, completely anonymously, within our study by following this link: https://cumbria.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/weaponising-covid19-a-view-from-the-blue-line
Help is also available via the home of the National Police Wellbeing Service, Oscar Kilo: https://oscarkilo.org.uk/ and the British Psychological Association produced a webinar on meeting the psychological needs of people recovering from severe coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hAUUTdhHlc&feature=youtu.be
Rob Ewin – Detective Sergeant.
Dr Nicoletta Policek - Institute of Business, Industry & Leadership.