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Police resilience trial sparks results for the frontline

Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have worked with the College of Policing to examine the resilience and wellbeing of more than a thousand police officers and staff - culminating in a free online mindfulness package launched today.

The six-month randomised control trial, often seen as the gold standard in trials, split police officers and staff into three groups – one who used Mindfit Cop, another who used a different mindfulness app and website and a group who did not use either product.

Involving more than 1,300 officers and staff, it found those using the two mindfulness products had improved average performance in their job, resilience and wellbeing in comparison to the group who were not using either product.

The result was the creation of a free online mindfulness package, called ‘Mindfit Cop’, which officers and staff can complete in half-hour sessions over eight weeks.

It was developed by Detective Inspector Jenni McIntyre-Smith from Bedfordshire Police and leading UK mindfulness trainer Michael Chaskalson.

The College of Policing - working with DI McIntyre-Smith and wellbeing researchers from UEA’s Norwich Business School - provided funding to design the programme and carry out the trial. The project saw Dr Helen Fitzhugh, a senior research associate working on employee wellbeing, seconded to the College Of Policing as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). The KTP scheme, which is supported by the UK government, enables organisations to access the knowledge and expertise of universities to meet a specific need.

A report on the outcomes of the trial by Dr Fitzhugh, Dr George Michaelides, Prof Sara Connolly and Prof Kevin Daniels of Norwich Business School, is also published today.

Dr Fitzhugh said: “This is one of the largest scale randomised control trials of mindfulness ever conducted and provides robust evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness training for those on high stress jobs, such as the police.”

“We found that mindfulness apps improved mindfulness, resilience and life satisfaction,” added Dr Michaelides.

Prof Daniels said: “Those who engaged with the trial reported lower presenteeism - going to work when they were not well - and feeling more productive at work.”

Rachel Tuffin, Director at the College of Policing, said: “Today marks the beginning of International Stress Awareness Week and several recent surveys have shown those working in policing are less likely than other emergency services to seek help and support to deal with the pressures and demands their jobs entail. DI McIntyre-Smith’s programme is one practical option.

“Mindfit Cop has been successfully trialled and is a free innovative resource developed by policing, for policing.”

DI McIntyre-Smith said she knew she wanted to bring mindfulness into policing after completing her own eight-week course and realising its benefits when working in a fast-paced, pressurised job.

“I knew then that I wanted to make this training available to policing as there were so many benefits.

“I am so pleased with the results of this project and so proud that my work can now be used by everyone working in policing across England and Wales,” she said.

The police forces which took part in the randomised control trial were Avon and Somerset, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and South Wales.

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