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Daughter's Documentary On Police Wellbeing

A new documentary examines the experiences of Jersey Police officers coping with intense and traumatic cases.

'After the Sirens' is a film produced, created and videographed by Melissa De Freitas, exploring the struggles officers face whilst continuing to support the community.

The 20-minute documentary identifies outdated stigmas associated with the police and highlights the mental resilience of the force.

Melissa - whose own dad Manny is a serving inspector - says she hopes her solo project sparks much-needed conversation.

"The whole idea to focus on that [topic] stemmed from the close relationship I have with my dad.

As he's getting older and I'm getting older, naturally, I'm beginning to care for his health more, both physically and mentally, and it just got me to spark the question 'mentally, how is he?'"

Melissa says mental health is not widely-explored in police films and documentaries.

The film follows themes involving PTSD and a catastrophic case, and individual coping mechanisms.

Multi-culturalism within the force is also explored in the film, as Melissa's father Manuel 'Manny' De Freitas was born in Madeira before moving to Jersey in his early teens.

The Liverpool Hope graduate says she saw her dad being quite vulnerable during the filming process.

"I got to learn so much more about him which I perhaps hadn't considered before.

The film also looks at his upbringing, because his roots are in Madeira; he was born in Madeira and raised there.

"Moving from a Madeiran community to quite a full English community... it was tough for him."

Manny has been working as a police officer in Jersey for more than 21 years and received a medal from Government House, for his commitment, in June of this year.

Melissa also interviewed four other officers, from various levels in SOJP, along with a retired officer who is now the station chaplain.

She says the interviewing process was quite touching:

"It was very intense. There was a range of emotions.

I was quite shocked at some of the more senior people and how vulnerable they became, but in a sense with that, I was really proud that they were able to open up to me and talk about emotions and things that they hadn't considered before."

After a positive and empowering reception from university faculty and the force, the documentary has been entered into film festivals in the UK, across Europe and Canada.

Melissa will be studying a Master's degree at Liverpool Hope after receiving a first-class degree with honours in Dance and Film & Visual Culture.

Islanders can watch the full documentary on Vimeo tomorrow (Thursday, 10 August).

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