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Police Scotland, Ayrshire Division, to become ‘Trauma Informed’


Following work and research around ‘adverse childhood experiences’ or ACEs that has taken place locally, Chief Superintendent Paul Main is pleased to announce that Ayrshire division will become a trauma informed division.

Only 20% of the incidents that Ayrshire Police Division deal with are crime related and an increasing amount relate to people in distress or crisis, or suffering from the impact of addiction, homelessness or trauma. Additionally a growing number of incidents they attend occur in private homes or online.

Ayrshire Division has recently undertaken work with partners in relation to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Adverse Childhood Experiences are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They can also include issues at home, in private, such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who abuse alcohol or drugs.

Work has already taken place which has demonstrated the importance of understanding more about ACE’s and how these adverse experiences impact on young people and can last a lifetime. This work includes a review of international research, collaboration with partners, discussions with subject matter experts and the sharing of information internally with colleagues through workshops, forums and meetings. As well as local partners, CS Main’s staff and officers have benefited greatly from the advice of the Violence Reduction Unit, Suzanne Zeedyk, John Carnochan and Tina Hendry.

Living with and being exposed to toxic stress can undermine a person’s capacity to manage their own behaviours and emotions. For example:

People with 4 or more ACEs are 14 times more likely to have been a victim of violence in the last 12 months.
People with 4 or more ACEs are 15 times more likely to have committed violence against another person in the last 12 months.
People with 4 or more ACEs are 20 times more likely to have been incarcerated at any point in their lifetime.
People with higher ACEs scores are at greater risk poor educational and employment outcomes and low mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.

Becoming ‘trauma informed’ will help officers and staff to have an increased understanding of those they engage with. It will allow them to look beyond people’s behaviours and actions, improve their response to people in distress and provide the opportunity to make positive and sustainable differences to communities throughout Ayrshire.

At the same time it will allow officers and staff to consider their own personal experiences and reflect on the resilience that they have and that they bring to do their job effectively, recognising the importance of the support available to them both internally and externally.

The Resilience Documentary, which provides a helpful overview of ACE’s has been seen by thousands of public sector practitioners across Scotland during the latter half of 2017 and into 2018.

Over 50 officers and staff from Ayrshire Police Division have already seen the Resilience Documentary and the overwhelming conclusion has been that if everyone within the Division was given the opportunity to view it would increase their awareness and understanding of the behaviours and actions of people, and the approach that they adopt to respond to them.

This includes the response to people in crisis or distress, or suffering from mental health and other medical conditions, as well as how they engage with people in the criminal justice system and in other circumstances.

As an initial step Ayrshire Police Division will provide officers and staff time to watch the Resilience Documentary including a facilitated discussion with leaders and experts in Adverse Childhood Experiences. This approach will complement existing partnership activity in many areas including Public Health and Getting It Right for Every Child.

ACEs Conference
Community Justice Ayrshire held a multi-disciplinary conference, Adverse Childhood Experiences: Start Where You Are and Do What You Can on Friday 16 February 2018, and Police Scotland were delighted to support this event. At the close of the event, the Chair of Community Justice Ayrshire, Councillor Anthea Dickson, announced their ambition of being Trauma Informed.

Chief Superintendent Main advises that “further activity in the area of ACEs will be announced soon and will include the identification of best practice in policing and in how we collaborate with the great partnerships we have the benefit of working with across Ayrshire.”

A trailer for the Resilience Documentary can be viewed at:

More information on ACEs can also be found at: Violence Reduction Unit:

Community Justice Ayrshire:

John Carnochan:

Tina Hendry:

Suzanne Zeedyk:

You can follow this announcement with social media at #AcesAware #TraumaInformed