Chalk Backs “Absolutely Vital” Trauma Support for Gloucestershire Police Officers

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has welcomed the decision of Gloucestershire Police to enhance trauma risk management system (TRiM) to support officers coping with traumatic incidents at work. Mr Chalk raised the issue during his recent meeting (Monday 4th September) with Chief Constable Rod Hansen.

The TRIM system allows officers to talk in confidence to trained colleagues in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Officers could be faced with a number of differing reactions; and incidents have the potential to have a long-term distressing impact on individuals or groups.

The objective is to identify staff that may be at risk of developing psychological illness as a result of that exposure and to facilitate additional support and where necessary, sign post to specialist medical care. TRiM is not treatment or counselling, but a recognised method of assessing risk after traumatic exposure whilst at work.

It is recognised within the medical profession that treatment for psychological illness is more likely to be effective if intervention can take place at an early stage after the event. The longer symptoms are allowed to develop the less likely it is that treatment will be effective.

Mr Chalk said: “I recently spent a night on the beat with some of our local police officers. Because they’re absolute professionals, it can be easy to forget just how much they stress they face. I heard about some truly horrendous experiences where members of the force have had to deal with the aftermath of serious injuries and deaths, suicides, sex attacks, child abuse and family tragedies. And at the end of their shifts they will return home to their own families.

“The TRiM sytem is just part of a range of support measures to help officers cope, and I’m delighted that Gloucestershire Police is developing its use. TRiM is an absolutely vital part of welfare support for those serving our community do bravely.

“I know it’s been described by officers as the modern day equivalent of going for a beer. But sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed - a confidential conversation with colleagues immediately after a traumatic event.”

Mr Chalk continued: “The TRiM system was developed by the Royal Marines, coping with events in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s been adapted and is now used by a large number of police forces and emergency services across the country. It’s a model that’s had significant success elsewhere, for example helping officers cope following the Derrick Bird Cumbria shooting, where 12 people died and 11 more were injured.”