Partnerships, Prevention and Community Wellbeing (PPCW) is a new division in Police Scotland. Its purpose is to change policing culture through a focus on primary prevention using a Whole System Approach. The overarching aim of PPCW is to reduce vulnerability, prevent harm and work collaboratively with local communities and partners in Scotland.
PPCW recognises the huge benefits early intervention opportunities can provide, together with ongoing support for vulnerable people. This goes hand in hand with other positive actions to mitigate the factors which can cause long lasting damage and harm.
As an emergency service provider, Police Scotland are often called to help in crises. These are increasingly less about crime, and more about welfare and wellbeing.
The impact on mental health is evident. Having barely recovered from the effects of the Corona Virus pandemic, a deadly conflict in Ukraine has ensued and a much publicised cost of living crisis has begun.
This has, and will no doubt continue, to have an effect on the mental health of individuals in Scotland. Our officers see poor mental health manifest itself in many ways, such as isolation; different or challenging behaviours; self-harm and, for some, suicide. The consequences can be devastating, not only to the individual, but to the family, friends and colleagues who might have been unaware and are left feeling helpless.
This helplessness and lack of hope can also be seen in the continuing levels of addiction across the country – a symptom of trauma. Our high levels of drug deaths, and deaths where alcohol is a contributory factor, are the visible sign of a much larger problem. These addictions often bring people into the justice system, which compounds their problems.
Our new approach means that in the future we want to use any opportunity we have to engage with people who have underlying health problems and direct them to the help they need.
Police Scotland have committed to taking a public health approach to how we work. This approach is very much based on prevention of harm at the earliest possible opportunity, and necessitates a collaborative approach with other stakeholders to make a real change.
Today we are specifically reaching out to our colleagues in the 3rd Sector who provide health based services. Police Scotland appreciates the role you play in the delivery of vital services within communities and that you are integral to enhancing the strength and resilience of individuals and communities. Most of the people we interact with daily need the type of help that you provide. We are the sticking plaster but you are part of the cure.
We want to develop our relationship with you and work alongside you in creating opportunities to help those in need access appropriate services. It is difficult for a large organisation like ours to make the type of personal connections required to start a successful partnership or collaboration, however, we hope that by engaging with you all via Voluntary Health Scotland, those connections can be made.
By working alongside organisations like yours to address inequalities, we will not only make a positive difference to individuals’ mental health and the dangerous relationship with drugs and alcohol, we can also help address the root causes of crime, safeguard vulnerable people in our communities and reduce the chance of becoming a victim.
Valerie Arbuckle is the Partnership Development Manager with Police Scotland