Relaxation room created at Police HQ to improve staff wellbeing

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Police HQ, The Breathing Space
(l-r) Andrea Breitenbach and Kathryn Holloway (PCC) in the Breathing Space room

Bedfordshire Police officers and staff now have a safe space to take a few minutes out after particularly traumatic events they may have attended or been supporting.

The Relaxation Room at Police HQ in Kempston cost £555 and utilised left over materials from other ongoing maintenance projects.

Bedford’s Dunelm Mill and Homesense stores and Gibbs and Dandy in Luton also gave discounts on furnishing and decorating supplies.

The quiet and welcoming space allows staff to gather their thoughts during or after a long or particularly difficult shift, in comfortable surroundings.

It has been furnished to create a calming ambience with appropriate furniture, pictures, plants and soft lighting.

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, says the room, renamed ‘The Breathing Space’ is a bid to boost wellbeing in the Force.

“Across the corporate world where I used to work,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Improving working conditions for staff… if their job is stressful, is seen as a hugely important factor in… helping to improve the physical and mental health of the workforce.”

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request, submitted to the force in May this year, found there has been a 63% increase in sick absence due to psychological factors in the last five years.

Psychological factors include anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress, shock and stress.

3,157 police officers took time off between 2013 to 2014 due to these or similar illnesses. In 2018 to 2019 this had risen to 5,150.

We have not been provided with figures that show how many civilian staff were off due to these or similar conditions.

Home Office recommendations

This month’s Front Line Review from the Home Office found police officers and staff across the UK reported a feeling they are not given enough time or space for activities that positively impact on their wellbeing.

Recommendations from the review say police forces must begin to take wellbeing more seriously.

Something that Commissioner Holloway says she has always been entirely clear is part of my duty of care to all police officers and staff.

Bedfordshire Police’s Wellbeing Co-Ordinator, Andrea Breitenbach added: “The Breathing Space room looks amazing and we have our PCC to thank for that.

“It will provide our workforce with a quiet space that can be used when some time out is needed.

“This may be as a result of dealing with a traumatic incident or just for someone needing a bit of time to collect their thoughts or practice some Mindfulness.

“As part of the Force’s Wellbeing Agenda, further break out areas are being modernised, and I look forward to working closely with the PCC’s office to improve the wellbeing provisions for our staff.”

“This is most definitely not a waste of money but a modest and well deserved investment in our officers and staff,” said the commissioner.