The human element. UK police wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Huddersfield

In Collaboration With

National Police Wellbeing Service

Principal Researcher

Professor Jason Roach

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

October 2020

Research Context

Hopefully, much research on policing and the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK will emerge in the coming months, but there is unlikely to be any that focuses on the effects of policing the pandemic on ‘police’ and not simply ‘policing’ the pandemic.
This research will examine the effects of policing during Covid-19 on UK police staff and identify any effective coping strategies used to minimise these effects, to inform the future form and provision of support services and training for police.


  1. To identify the common psychological, physical and emotional effects and their intensity on staff engaged in UK policing during the Covid-19 pandemic, from lockdown to the easing of social distancing rules, and to the possibility of regional spikes and second-wave infection. 

  2. To identify effective coping strategies employed by a range of different police staff to deal with the effects on wellbeing of UK police staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  3. To recommend appropriate support provision and training need for police staff facing second-wave Covid-19 and future UK pandemic situations.



  1. For the first time findings will be presented on how the wellbeing of UK ‘police’ was affected by policing the pandemic and not simply on ‘policing’ per se (e.g. how did they feel about approaching social distancing transgressors during and after lockdown? How did they feel about wearing/not wearing PPE? How did they feel going home to their families after a shift?).

  2. For the first time both quantitative and qualitative research findings will be presented on how police staff coped/ are coping with the negative effects on their wellbeing of working during the pandemic. This can be used to inform future welfare provision and to develop specific training on useful and effective ‘coping methods and strategies’ for all UK police (and other overseas police services).

  3. A final research report will be produced for the CoP to help enhance the development of wellbeing resources, support, services, training etc for all UK police in preparation for the re-occurrence of Covid-19 (or other pandemic viruses) in future years.

  4. An academic paper will be produced to be the lead article in the special edition of the Police Journal. This will be guest edited by Dr Ian Hesketh (Lead for NPWS).

Research Methodology


  1. To develop and utilise an electronic survey using Qualtrics software to identify common effects on UK police working during the Covid-19 period. Sample size will be 500-1000 UK police staff. The survey will likely include elements of existing scales to measure wellbeing, coping strategies and resilience. The survey proposed will be different in that

    (i) the questions will be framed specifically around police wellbeing during the UK Covid-19 pandemic form March to October 2020 (i.e. including ‘lock-down’, ‘partial lockdown’ and ‘social distancing relation’ periods).
    (ii) The use of Likert-type scales will afford a measurability of the intensity of answers regarding the degree to which, for example the risk of being ‘coughed at’, have had an effect on respondents’ wellbeing, for example going home to their family after a shift.
    (iii) Common coping and resilience strategies will be identified to inform part 2 of the research below.

  2. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups (informed by the survey) with UK police staff will be used to provide more depth information/data of personal individual experiences of coping/dealing with the effects on working during the UK pandemic. Sample size will be 20-30 UK police staff. The findings from this qualitative element of the research will build on the survey findings by providing more detail on how effects experienced by those in different policing roles were dealt with/overcome and so inform further police support and training need in the case of second-wave or further/future pandemics.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

October 2021
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