Members are being urged to wear their body armour appropriately for the good of their long-term health in a new Dyfed Powys Police Federation drive.
Secretary Roger Webb warned the weight of the kit could contribute to health issues as he encouraged officers to take it off when not needed.
Roger’s comments come as the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) launches its Back to Basics awareness campaign.
Coinciding with World Wellbeing Week, the campaign aims to highlight the effects body armour can have on the body and educate officers about prevention and the help available.
Roger said: “Body armour is an essential and potentially life-saving piece of kit. However, the weight of wearing it long-term over whole shifts has the potential to cause harm such as back, shoulder or muscle problems.
“We’ve launched our Back to Basics drive to make members aware of the issue. We’d encourage officers to take off their armour when it’s not needed, such as when they’re back at the office or in the car.”
The Federation set up a working group to examine the issues and found problems not only with the weight of the plates used, but also the weight of what officers carry such as mobile units and kit.
The group established officers were being referred to treatment centres with back, shoulder and neck pain, which could be caused by wearing body armour.
Steve Hartshorn, the PFEW National Board lead for operational policing, said: “The centres have created specialist classes to teach core and strengthening exercises to protect members’ backs – something your Federation is welcoming.”
Writing in a blog for World Wellbeing Week, Steve added: “Over the next few months, we will be working with experts from Flint House, the Police Treatment Centres (Harrogate and Auchterarder) and the North-West Police Benevolent Fund to share ways to help ease the strain on your muscles and skeleton.
“They have some useful guides and videos that can help you build core strength and complement any existing training plans. We will also be working with forces to remind them of their responsibility to look after officers’ welfare and encourage good practice around body armour care, storage and checks after being damaged.”
Find out more about the Back to Basics campaign.