Policing can take a physical and mental toll on officers and sometimes members of the force need support, a government minister heard.

Flint House Police Rehabilitation Centre in Goring is designed to help officers when they encounter trauma.

Police Minister Kit Malthouse took a tour of the “outstanding” rehabilitation centre for officers. The visit coincided with the launch of the Police Covenant.

Mr Malthouse spent two hours at the facility and spoke to physios and police officer patients about the charity’s work. Donning a hard hat, the minister also took a visit to see the charity’s new swimming pool, currently under construction, which is designed for rest and recuperation.

Despite providing remote consultation during lockdown, the historic Flint House facilities only reopened to police officers this week having been shut for the first time in its 130-year history due to Covid-19.

Mr Malthouse said: “It underlines the importance that we need to place on police officer physical and mental welfare.

Herald Series:

“Here we have an organisation that’s been dedicated to that cause for many years and it is expanding its facilities, obviously in the face of growing need.

Read also: Oxford filmmaker's Absent Thoughts takes on domestic abuse

“Happily, the culture in policing has changed over the past 20 years, to one of ‘pull yourself together’ to one that is now taking physical, and particularly mental health much more seriously. You definitely see that when you wander around the corridors in this facility.”

During lockdown officers that needed physical and psychological support could not attend the centre, which is set in the Oxfordshire countryside, in person. However, treatments and consultations have taken place virtually with exercise videos being shared online via YouTube and Zoom video calls.

Usually almost 3,500 police officers from more than 29 police forces across England and Wales visit Flint House each year, making it possible with a donation of £1.70 a week.

Herald Series:

Mr Malthouse added: “Policing has become a very different job over the past 20 to 30 years. It’s much more stressful, there is much more opportunity for injury and problems physically, and indeed the trauma that can lead to mental health difficulties. The need for this facility is growing because of those reasons.

Read also: Cancelled Ironman recreated in Oxfordshire after mental health battle

“It’s a great facility, the only negative I’ve heard is that a reducing number of police officers are supporting this charity through the quite small weekly donations, and of course the moment you want to start paying those subscriptions sadly might be the moment that you need this facility and - so it would be great to see those numbers grow so the facilities here can remain in ‘tip top’ shape to help.”

The virtual programmes offered by the centre have been taken up by around 300 officers after a note was published on the Flint House website inviting existing patients and new patients to take part.

Flint House CEO Tom McAuslin said: “It was great to have the Police Minister come to see us at Flint House and discover for himself policing’s best kept secret. And that’s our goal to reveal this secret and how we play our huge part in getting police officers back to work and physically and physiologically better.”