Andy Rhodes is Chief Constable for Lancashire Constabulary and national police lead for Wellbeing. He passionately believes that in order to provide the most effective service to the public is by ensuring leaders look after their staff. Andy’s personal experiences have shaped his leadership style and his approach to wellbeing is recognised both nationally and internationally. In Andy’s words:
“Policing is best described as having ‘high emotional labour’ in that, we experience regular and sustained exposure to sadness, grief and trauma with no time to reflect on our own emotions. As first responders, we witness incidents that once seen, cannot be unseen. Incidents that would leave most people scarred for life. This has a huge impact on emotional wellbeing and affects personal resilience.
“The expectation of being immersed in pain, sadness and suffering of people on a daily basis and not being affected is about as unrealistic as being immersed in water and expecting not to get wet”
My leadership approach is to always listen to the people closest to the actual work. This is where we start to really understand what policing demand in 2018 means:
- Police demand is totally different than it was 20 years ago. It’s not all about new types of risks such as those driven by technology; it’s often about managing more of what we call complex need incidents relating to mental health, missing from homes, drugs, child and domestic abuse, violent crimes, alcohol addiction and other forms of vulnerability within society. This is now 80% of what we do and takes longer then we expect as vulnerable people need to be safeguarded and this takes effective multi-agency partnerships and long term resilience.
- We take around 1.3 million 101/99 calls a year in Lancashire - that’s a lot! Within this is a big proportion of what we call non-added value work. We work hard to reduce this waste and much of it is based on a fear of making a mistake and the consequences of a profession that is always in the media and public eye. We worry a lot! As my old grandmother once said ‘worry is like a rocking chair…it keeps you busy but it gets you nowhere’. I still worry a lot though…sorry gran but it keeps me sharp.
- New demand requires new thinking, new attitudes and new skills. For some of our people getting to grips with modern technology is very stressful. New technology can also be intrusive by its very own nature. I could go on and on ….. I’ll finish by reassuring people that the vast majority of people join policing for the right reasons, to make a difference and keep people safe. Nothing stays the same and we are adapting all the time, recruiting different people than I was when I joined and I don’t feel less valued because of that.”
On behalf of all of us at Lancashire Constabulary, stay safe and remember when you need us we will be there.