Moving Towards Trauma-informed Policing: An Exploration of Police Officer's Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Karri Gillespie-Smith, Zara Brodie, Kimberly Collins, Kirsty Deacon, Karen Goodall

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In 2018 Ayrshire Division of Police Scotland announced their aim to become a traumainformed division. Subsequently, all officers and staff took part in a Resilience documentary screening event. This project aimed to examine whether this screening influenced police perceptions and attitudes towards becoming a trauma-informed force. Study 1: Officers from Ayrshire (exposed to screening; n = 58) and Lothians and Borders (not exposed; n = 87) divisions completed an online survey, which revealed no significant difference in attitudes towards trauma-informed care for witnesses/victims or perpetrators. Study 2: Four focus groups were conducted with 29 officers across each area of Ayrshire division to explore attitudes towards the Resilience screenings and wider understanding and attitudes towards becoming trauma-informed. Discussion: The lack of difference in attitudes in Study 1 may be due to the Resilience screening being awareness-raising, failing to provide a toolkit for officers to translate these principles into practice. Study 2 showed that officers believe there is merit in becoming traumainformed, however, there is a lack of clarity on what this might be in day-to-day practice and uncertainty regarding where the responsibility lies with regards to trauma-exposed individuals. Importantly, officers are implementing trauma-informed practices which are not necessarily ‘labelled’ as such.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2020


  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
  • policing
  • trauma-informed practices

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