Leicestershire Police will measure the “physical and mental toll of the job” on its forensic teams in a groundbreaking study using data analytics from the world of Formula One.

Around 50 CSIs and digital forensic staff have volunteered to take part in the four-month study. The anonymous data they provide will enable researchers to study the impact of visiting traumatic crime scenes, viewing distressing images and other challenges in police work.

Participants will use a wearable device similar to a smart watch to capture their heart rate and other physiological data while on shift, at home and during the night.

They will also take part in daily surveys and games through a bespoke secure app to assess their wellbeing, cognitive capacity and stress levels.

Receiving regular feedback regarding their wellbeing could help staff build their resilience and self-awareness, and encourage them to seek help earlier.

Leicestershire Police managers will also have access to anonymised reports, which they hope will identify trends across the team and tasks that make staff feel stressed and burnt-out. The participants’ data is private only to them, and is aggregated and anonymised at all times in line with GDPR regulation.

Nicola Mannion, Central Services Manager (Business Futures) at the East Midlands Special Operations Unit’s Forensic Services, said:

“We know that our staff see the most traumatic of things and this trial will help us further identify measures we can put in place to support them. By monitoring their stress and wellbeing levels, we’ll be able to identify strategies to best help our staff and try to ensure everyone stays happy and healthy at work.”

Nick Loxley, Operations Manager for CSIs at the East Midlands Special Operations Unit’s Forensic Services, added:

“This is an innovative project which we are extremely excited to see the results from. Our staff’s wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do, so we are proud to be embracing this technology to help us identify ways we can improve that.”

Funding for the project was secured last year by the Forensic Capability Network (FCN), an NPCC national body which improves forensic services in policing and the private sector. FCN will work with Leicestershire throughout the project to steer the research.

FCN’s Workforce Lead, Paula Mulroy, said:

“The police have no national approach on wellbeing for forensic teams, and until now no-one has studied the physical and mental toll of the job in detail. We want to shed light on what forensic teams experience on a daily basis, and help organisations serve their forensic workforce better.”

The research is being conducted with ihp:ANALYTICS, a health, wellbeing and human performance company, using its My Work-Life Analytics platform. In addition to F1 and elite sport, the company has previously worked with organisations in the public and private sectors.

ihp:ANALYTICS CEO, Steve Gill added:

“We can give Leicestershire Police’s people a unique insight into their health and wellbeing, as well as the tools to deal with situations before they lead to more serious health issues. Hopefully the participants can find their ideal performance zone and achieve a better work-life balance.”

Read more about FCN's research activities.