Honey pictured below with Maidstone Chief Inspector Gary Woodward
Police stations across the county have been welcoming a special new recruit to help support the mental wellbeing of officers and staff.
Honey is Kent Police’s first wellbeing and trauma support dog and will provide a calming presence following potentially traumatic events.
She is not a police dog, but belongs to a community policing volunteer and has been provided through the national Oscar Kilo 9 network which aims to introduce wellbeing dogs throughout the country.
A springer spaniel, Honey can be arranged for specific teams or individuals, including front line officers dealing with traumatic events and 999 call handlers who may take distressing or upsetting calls.
Her role will be to provide a few minutes of relief to those in need across the workplace and along with her handler she has so far visited police stations in Canterbury, Ashford and Maidstone.
Boost to wellbeing
PC Martyn Tulk, of the Community Policing Volunteer Canine team, said: ‘Policing is a challenging and demanding job which can frequently lead to stressful, upsetting and sometimes disturbing situations.’A growing number of police forces are recognising the value of dogs in helping officers and staff cope with the daily stresses of work and in supporting their overall wellbeing.‘When a dog is introduced to the workplace, the interactions can provide much needed light relief. We hope Honey’s presence will help our officers and staff to find it easier to engage and speak about issues and events that have been causing them upset or may have been affecting their mental health and wellbeing.’
The OK9 network currently has more than 100 accredited wellbeing and trauma support dogs and as well as a number of police forces, has representation within several fire and rescue services.
Their handlers are also mental health first aiders and are trained to talk about their own experiences. They are ideally placed to listen, enable difficult conversations and provide signposting to support if required.
As well as the dedicated wellbeing trauma and support dog, Kent Police uses other volunteer therapy dogs to help tackle a range of issues including around mental health and supporting vulnerable people and child centred policing.