“This is most definitely not a waste of money,” says Bedfordshire Police boss about new relaxation space

A new relaxation space has been created at Bedfordshire Police HQ to help staff take a few minutes out after particularly traumatic events.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway has created the dedicated space, called ‘The Breathing Space’, to boost wellbeing.

And she has insisted that the £555 spent on the project is “most definitely not a waste of money”.

Ms Holloway said: “Across the corporate world where I used to work, improving working conditions for staff especially in communal areas and providing them with a space for a few moments’ respite if their job is stressful, is seen as a hugely important factor in relation to morale and even in helping to improve the physical and mental health of the workforce.

“This is most definitely not a waste of money but a modest and well-deserved investment in our officers and staff and I was entirely clear that this is part of my duty of care to all of them even before the publication of this month’s Front Line Review urging forces to take wellbeing more seriously.”

A number of local stores have helped to create the facility with free goods or discounts. Ms Holloway gave particular praise to Bedford’s Dunelm Mill and Homesense stores, plus Gibbs and Dandy in Luton.

“Without them this would not have worked out as it has,” she said.

Ms Holloway also said she had won over staff who were dubious about the idea.

She said: “I was a bit down-hearted when one of the custody staff in Luton told me he thought it was being decorated to look good for the cameras of the series ‘24 Hours In Police Custody’ when, in fact, this is all part of a genuine attempt to improve working conditions for officers and staff.

“I told him he was a cynic and that you can’t please all of the people all of the time!”

Bedfordshire Police’s wellbeing coordinator Andrea Breitenbach said: “The Breathing Space room looks amazing and we have our PCC to thank for that.

“It will provide our workforce with a quiet space that can be used when some time out is needed. This may be as a result of dealing with a traumatic incident or just for someone needing a bit of time to collect their thoughts or practice some mindfulness.

“As part of the force’s wellbeing agenda, further break out areas are being modernised, and I look forward to working closely with the PCC’s office to improve the wellbeing provisions for our staff.”