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Policing and public health – a common purpose

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Senior leaders from across public health and the police came together recently to talk about closer working.

It was clear from the discussion that public health priorities are aligned with those of police forces across England in areas such as mental health issues and substance misuse.

There are also opportunities to bring about real change by working together with children and families at the earliest opportunity.

These discussions were building on the excellent collaborations PHE has been involved in between health and fire and rescue services, leading to the rollout of safe and well visits across England.

This work with ‘blue light services’ is important because we know that many of the factors that impact health sit outside the traditional realms of healthcare such as living in a warm and safe home, having a good job, having positive relationships and feeling safe in your community

In order to address these factors and reach vulnerable people, public health professionals must engage with those working in other parts of the community, such as the police.

This was the message coming from senior leaders at the summit and there was a strong commitment to further develop these working relationships.

‘As policing moves closer to an ethos of early intervention and stronger evidence based practice to tackle the challenges faced by individuals and communities there is a huge opportunity to further develop and embed an ethos of collaborative working between our organisations shared vision of prevention in relation to crime, health and wellbeing ‘ - Simon Cole, Chief Executive, National Police Chiefs Council national lead for Prevent and chief constable of Leicestershire

While the police have seen a reduction in crime over the last few years, the demand on police time is increasing.

This increase in demand comes from vulnerable individuals who may be victims of substance misuse, excess alcohol use or people with mental illnesses - the same population public health professionals support.

Working together using evidence based approaches has been shown to provide effective strategies for both police and public health. An example of this is work on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

There are already many fantastic examples of strong partnerships between public health and the police.

Public Health England recently published Police and Public Health: Innovations in Practice outlining some of these examples of how people’s health can be improved through innovation and collaboration.

So what's next?

The senior leaders agreed there is now an opportunity to create an ethos of collaborative working between our organisations and pursue a shared vision of prevention in relation to crime, health and wellbeing.

In view of the excellent work already happening; our first step will be to develop a clearer picture of current practice so that we can share and learn from this as well as identify the key themes for more focused collaborations.

We will keep the public health and police communities updated on these developments.

Image: Elliot brown

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