Launch of Police Federation Menopause Guidance on National 999 Day

Today on National 999 Day the police service is set to welcome & launch National Menopause Guidance.  The guidance is aimed to help forces better support officers going through the menopause.

As you know the police service is very close to our hearts, for me, Lynda, because I was part of it for 30 years and for both Sarah and I because we have worked with so many forces over the last 18 months to deliver menopause awareness training.

 The police are fantastic role models for talking menopause in the workplace and the issue of these guidelines today further supports this.

At Talking Menopause we hope that all forces take this opportunity to support their officers and staff whether they are menopausal, a colleague or manager.

Keep Talking Menopause!

Hayley Ayley who is the women’s lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales has written a blog which we would like to share with you.

Menopause in policing

With more women than ever before working for our emergency services it is vital that we all wake up to menopause. In 2019, this should no longer be a taboo topic and with an aging workforce, the struggles faced by our colleagues cannot be swept under the carpet.

Our journey towards change began two years ago. As one of the National Board women’s leads at the Police Federation of England and Wales, it became apparent to me after attending all these meetings with female police officers up and down the country that there was too much variation in the level of support provided to colleagues going through the menopause depending on which force they were from. Some were good whilst others were acting as though the menopause just didn’t exist.

It became very clear through some of the stories and evidence given that some officers have had a horrendous time which is worsened because there is still a stigma tied to it. I knew at this point that something must be done and we should be better supporting our members who are transitioning - there was a desperate need for national guidance and education.

Firstly, we recognised the need for evidence and an idea of the scale of the issue, so I decided to spearhead the first national police menopause survey - targeting all within the policing family including staff, line management and senior leaders - alongside UNISON and with support from the Police Superintendents’ Association, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing.

Unsurprisingly the national picture backed up what my colleagues were telling me – that a majority of officers struggle with the symptoms with tiredness and sleep disturbances having the most detrimental effect on their career – many considered or are considering quitting.

We also discovered some would be too embarrassed to discuss symptoms with their line manager and believe they would be treated differently in a negative way if they did disclose, as it could be seen as a sign of weakness.

But all in all, it is down to poor education with line managers who should be supporting officers and staff in the workplace.

It is shocking that officers and police staff are driven to call in sick and lie on their return to work forms rather than stay in the workplace because of these horrific experiences.

Moving on, we have taken these findings and created a national set of guidelines so we can arm line managers with better knowledge and understanding on how to support their staff so this no longer goes on behind closed doors.

There are simple adjustments which can be made so officers don’t feel as though they need to take a long period of sick leave, including flexibility in start times, desk fans, coffee mornings to share experiences and to break down barriers as well as support with occupational health assessments where needed.

The national guidelines will be launched on 9 September and will go to each chief constable along with the survey findings – then we’ll revisit in the future to see the difference it’s made and how impactive it has been.

Both the Fire and Rescue Service and the Prison Officers’ Association have even shown an interest in this which gives me hope that our work will pave the way for removing the stigma around reporting and giving women the confidence to seek support not just in policing, but for all emergency services.

Sarah Davies