Breaking the silence: the traumatic circle of policing

Rees, Bronwen A. and Smith, Jonathan A. (2008) Breaking the silence: the traumatic circle of policing. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 10 (3). pp. 267-279. ISSN 1478-1603

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Operational police officers often work in traumatic situations. Whilst training and support is provided to officers in these areas in the UK, and some debriefing and counselling is provided, this is not fully effective in addressing the so-called ‘attitudinal’ problem of the police. We believe that one of the reasons for this is that police training does not adequately address the effects of working in traumatic conditions, and certainly does not take into account new work in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which shows that trauma, and its vicarious effects, is not necessarily a mental disorder (though its symptoms may manifest as such) but is caused by physiological and emotional changes in the body. Further, studies on the social nature of trauma indicate that it is often the isolated conditions of trauma victims that can increase PTSD. Drawing on secondary data from one of the authors’ work on spirituality in the police force, we explore the connections between the physiological and emotional aspects of trauma and the conditions in which police in the UK work. We suggest that police officers’ reports of the work they do, and the way in which they learn to live with it, keeps them in an ongoing cycle of retraumatisation. We suggest that we need to take into account the physiological, social as well as psychological (or attitudinal) aspects of working in traumatic conditions if we are to provide adequate training support for police officers, so that they are not left isolated in this cycle. This has potentially far-reaching implications for the training of police officers.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: trauma, police culture, police training, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Faculty: ARCHIVED Lord Ashcroft International Business School (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2011 13:53
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 14:56

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