Reporter 442, 8 November 1999
Stressed out bobbies on the beat are learning how to be more like laughing policemen with the help of University psychologist Ken Hart, who has been running a series of stress management workshops with officers at Killingbeck, Leeds.
The sessions have proved so successful that constabulary colleagues have called on Dr Hart to help soothe the stressed-out atmosphere of the police control room.
"I have been trying to supply the officers with an effective mental toolkit to help them deal with stressful situations," said Dr Hart.
"The nature of their job means things happen during their day that are unexpected and it is important they do not overreact emotionally."
The skills Dr Hart is helping the police develop ranged from the immediate - muscle relaxation and deep breathing - to the longer-term, including time management.
Division Chief Inspector Robin Clarke, a psychology graduate, hopes that by identifying and dealing with the signs of stress at an early stage, serious illness can be avoided, absenteeism cut and police performance improved.
Dr Hart's next challenge is to try to reduce the stress levels in the pressure-cooker environment of the Killingbeck control room.
"These are the people who take 999 calls and dispatch officers to incidents," said Dr Hart. "It is a very stressful job."
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