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PCC backs force in three year welfare support deal for Firearms Officers

Bedfordshire’s PCC, Kathryn Holloway, has met with representatives of the Police Federation and Police Firearms Officers Association (PFOA) to mark a three year agreement to pay for welfare cover for officers using firearms and involved in firearms incidents across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

The PCC met with Mick Crozier, the PFOAs Welfare Manager (and former BCH CFI (Chief Firearms Instructor) who manages the Welfare Support Programme and Det. Sgt. Emma Carter, Secretary and Treasurer for Bedfordshire Police Federation, to hear about the range of services offered to these specialist officers by the PFOA, as the result of a continued relationship with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire collaborative policing alliance, BCH.

“I think this is a truly exceptional welfare support service and I’m proud that BCH is providing back-up for its firearms officers and those who deal with such potentially traumatic incidents in this way,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“It’s particularly important for a group of officers and managers who have to make decisions none of us would want to make, under the most acute pressure possible and in a split second, which can literally be a matter of life of death for a potential victim and have life-long consequences for their attacker.

“These are the officers who help keep the public safe in the most dangerous of circumstances and they need to be supported. Providing a proper duty of care to officers and staff is one of the specific priorities of my Police and Crime Plan for Bedfordshire and this assistance dovetails with the work my office is doing to provide them with access to free health screening and physical and mental health advice and treatments, in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, and also our targeted healthcare scheme to provide access to earlier treatment and diagnosis for those facing delays who are not firearms officers,” she said.

The welfare services include a 24 hour helpline and range from assistance with the cost of medical care from physiotherapy to operation costs, to hampers, home visits and even financial contributions.

“We like to think ‘outside the box’ to provide the help officers really need. Recently the PFOA donated £1,000 towards the cost of a wheelchair for a member’s child. We paid for overnight accommodation when a partner had a fractured skull and for an officer to stay with his wife while she had medical treatment in the US and have paid for cleaners and childcare to help out and even £1,500 towards a bed for an officer who needed help with sleep as part of his recovery,” said Mick Crozier.

“Unless it’s over £5,000, we don’t have to go to the trustees for a decision and we really try to help wherever we can and as quickly as we can,” added Mick.

The BCH Alliance is paying a monthly contribution for each firearms officer and tactical and strategic firearms commanders plus all post-incident managers to be provided with cover through the PFOA unique welfare support scheme.

Emma Carter confirmed the Bedfordshire Police Federation has a close relationship with the PFOA and refers officers to its welfare scheme, having seen the strain on officers who must face mandatory police investigations when a weapon is fired and injury occurs or investigations which can result in long periods of suspension from duty, significant stress and even suicidal thoughts, requiring urgent help and support.

Commenting on the agreement Det Sgt. Emma Carter said: “The Welfare Support Programme is a joint-initiative between the Police Federation and the PFOA. I have personally known of officers whose life has been saved by calling the number and I do not hesitate in referring officers when the circumstances are appropriate.

“The PFOA is a charity that understands all aspects of Armed Policing and this knowledge and experience is invaluable to their members.”

Next year the PFOA celebrates its tenth anniversary. “I’ve asked Mick to put his thinking cap on as I’d really like to support our firearms officers by contributing to their celebrations in a meaningful way in 2019,” said PCC Holloway.