‘Improving the skills and status of police officers and staff to enable them to deal more effectively with the needs of vulnerable people ’
We have been awarded police transformation funding to accelerate four key elements of work in the area of vulnerability. Forces have been doing fantastic work to make vulnerable people safe. We now plan to develop products to help you make more people safe and support the professionalisation of this high-risk area of policing:
Everyone can be vulnerable. Police officers and staff must deal with every vulnerable person they encounter and single vulnerability factors are rarely found. Because of this, we are using the THRIVE definition to underpin the approach to vulnerability:
'A person is vulnerable if as a result of their situation or circumstances, they are unable to take care of or protect themselves, or others, from harm or exploitation'
Research has identified that a
person rarely has one vulnerability – instead, they have many. Our tendency to focus on the single, most obvious vulnerability can lead to missed risk indicators and missed opportunities to make people safer.
By looking at the person through an investigative lens, not just dealing with their obvious vulnerability, police officers and staff may identify multiple vulnerabilities and situational factors, such as a perpetrator or isolation, that affect their vulnerabilities. All of these work together to create their risk of harm.
A lot of great work is being done by police officers and staff dealing with the increasing demand of safeguarding and protective services. We are undertaking these four work-streams to enableofficers to deal even more effectively with the needs of vulnerable people.
Police officers and staff deal with vulnerable people on a day-to-day basis. These people rarely fit into a single neat category, but have multiple complex needs that need to be recognised and dealt with. Our approach to vulnerability recognises that each vulnerable person needs something different to support them. We hope the four work-streams will help you to be even more effective in your work and make people safer.
Person + situation = harm/risk of harm
The approach we will be using focusses on addressing the individual and their situation/environment separately. Any person could be vulnerable – it is the situation/environment, acting with the person’s specific vulnerabilities, that can make that person suffer harm or be at risk of harm.
An example: A person suffering from mental ill health may be vulnerable, but their environment can be managed by the person themselves, their family, local authority etc. It is when the environmental controls fail (such as the actions of a criminal) or do not exist that the vulnerable person suffers harm or becomes at risk of harm.
Police officers and staff most often encounter people who have suffered harm or who are at risk of harm.Their role will often be to deal with the environmental features that create the immediate risk of harm, such as arresting the suspect. They must also work in an integrated way with other organisations to reduce or remove risk of harm.
So, what can we do to prevent the failure of environmental controls and therefore prevent thevulnerable person from being harmed? By identifying vulnerabilities early on, working with partner organisations, we can prevent harm occurring. You are not alone! Police officers and staff are not doctors, teachers or social workers. There are many services available to support you in your work.We are making contact with other service deliverers to make sure that they understand the newpolicing approach to vulnerability and what their role is in making vulnerable people safer.