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Understanding trauma and secondary traumatic stress in police officers

Date of event: November 30, 2010

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Event Briefing

In collaboration with the Scottish Police College we are very pleased to offer a limited number of specially-priced places on this full-day seminar which examines Understanding trauma and secondary stress in police officers.

These places are available for academics, policy makers, and others non-police employees. PLEASE NOTE: Police staff should book through their SPOC (see below).


There is growing evidence to suggest that police officers and other emergency service personnel may be vulnerable to acquiring post traumatic symptoms through some of the varying tasks associated with modern day policing.

It is vital that we as individuals and as an organisation are aware of the risk factors associated with traumatic experiences and have an understanding of protective factors as well as knowledge of therapeutic intervention.


The seminar will combine a PowerPoint presentation with practical exercises, video presentations of trauma victims and outlines of trauma scenarios to examine the nature of traumatic experience in adults and explain the differences between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), Vicarious Trauma (VT) and ordinary stress.

The signs and symptoms of PTSD, STS and VT will be explored along with therapeutic interventions.

The factors which contribute to resilience amongst emergency personnel will be outlined and the key methods and advantages of ‘early intervention’ for officers following exposure to traumatic experience will be discussed.


Operational police officers of all ranks as well as other emergency service personnel.


This seminar will enable delegates to:

  • Develop an understanding of contemporary attitudes to post-traumatic reactions
  • Recognise the difference between normal and pathological reactions to trauma
  • Identify the impediments in the police service to the appropriate recognition of and response to post-traumatic reactions
  • Recognise the factors which contribute to resilience among officers
  • Develop a critical awareness of the principals of early intervention


Professor David A Alexander is the Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research, Robert Gordon University and Consultant in Charge of the regional Traumatic Stress Clinic. Since the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 he has worked with survivors, rescuers and others affected by major incidents worldwide including the 2004 Sri Lankan tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

He is a regular visiting lecturer at the Scottish Police College where he teaches on trauma management, hostage negotiation and terrorism.


In collaboration with the Scottish Police College we are very pleased to offer a very limited number of places on this full-day seminar at a special rate of £75 (the normal rate for CPD events charged by the College is £150). This offer is available to all non-police officers, including academics, policy makers and planners. Please note that police officers should apply for places directly via their own Force or partner agency Single Point of Contact (SPOC).

This will be a full-day course and lunch and refreshments will be included. On arrival at the College, delegates should make their way to the reception area of the Culzean Building.

The Scottish Police College CPD Programme
Scottish Police College

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