17 June 2019

Working with the College of Policing to improve the wellbeing of police officers and staff

Academics from UEA have a wealth of experience on the topic of workplace wellbeing. Norwich Business School (NBS) led the Work and Learning evidence programme of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing from 2015, working with a cross-disciplinary team to provide a robust evidence base on improving workplace wellbeing.

At the same time, a movement for better police wellbeing was emerging in England and Wales, with the College of Policing at the forefront of planning a programme of support.

After a meeting between wellbeing-focused researchers from the College of Policing and NBS, they realised the potential to work together and build new initiatives on a strong evidence base. Social researcher Dr Helen Fitzhugh was appointed as the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate to the College of Policing under the supervision of Prof Sara Connolly and Prof Kevin Daniels from NBS at UEA.

The two-year project included:

  • a six-month randomised control trial (RCT) of online mindfulness resources
  • a range of process and outcome evaluations on wellbeing intervention pilots
  • the creation of a plain English evidence pack on what makes a good supervisor in policing. 

The evidence pack on good supervision was based on a review of relevant academic papers. It was important to translate the robust evidence into a plain English format that could be read and understood by a wide range of people. The pack was used by a committee of police employees, policing advisers and academics drafting national guidelines for police supervisors. Work on refining and publishing the guidelines continues at the College of Policing beyond the life of the KTP, but the final guidance will have national reach and impact.

The wellbeing pilot evaluations provided useful insights to the wellbeing team at the College. One of these evaluations showed the popularity of new police wellbeing vans – vans that can be loaned to forces nationwide to host wellbeing checks and events.

The ‘Mindfulness in Policing’ RCT involved over 1,300 participants across five forces in England and Wales. The trial saw participants split into three groups – two using different mindfulness apps and one group who did not use either product. It found that 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.

As well as improving the wellbeing of its participants, the evidence supplied by the trial resulted in the nationwide launch of a free online mindfulness package, called Mindfit Cop. Around 200,000 officers and staff in England and Wales can now access and complete mindfulness training in half-hour sessions over eight weeks. The Guardian, Daily Mail, iNews and Police Oracle all ran articles on the successful trial and the launch of Mindfit Cop to policing nationwide.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships