Welfare concern as officers struggle to cope

18 December 2017

WSP

The number of police officers who are struggling to cope with the challenges they face in the course of their duties is growing, according to the latest figures released by our Welfare Support Programme (WSP).

The WSP was set-up in June 2015 as part of a joint initiative between the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) and Police Firearms Officers Association (PFOA), and offers year-round support to officers and their immediate families.

In the last three years, 857 officers and their family members have registered on the programme.

PFEW mental health lead, Che Donald said: “We have policing in a crisis and we do not have the capacity to meet the ongoing demand and it is placing police officers inside a pressure cooker environment, and that all affects the well-being and health of police officers.

“With a continuing lack of resources within their own forces and access to services, the WSP tries to fill that gap. The duty of care lies with the Chief Constable of that police force area, but the WSP is an attempt to fill the crack, which the police officers are slipping through.”

Mr Donald said since the WSP has been running, it has directly been involved in saving the lives of five officers who were going to take their own life.

He added: “The value of the WSP will have been borne out if we just saved one life and there is not a cost comparison to saving one officer.

“We will continue to support the programme based on positive feedback from members who have accessed the service and the positive affect it has had on their lives and their family members.”

PFOA chief executive, Mark Williams, said issues the scheme is now assisting with are more about mental health and how officers are suffering as a result of protracted investigations.

He added: “We maintain that had it not been for the continued support of the PFEW we would not have the WSP. The PFOA has increased its contribution and we are looking at ways to get additional funding to provide NLP Coaching for those that require it.”

“Without doubt the WSP is having a hugely positive impact on those that find themselves at their lowest ebb, experiencing the pressures of being a police officer and indeed the pressures of being related to a police officer.”

However, he said use of the WSP varies across forces and some do not even utilise the programme and have no officers on the scheme while others refer people on a weekly basis.

Over the last 18 weeks, the WSP has made 1,006 calls to officers including their family members and 2,856 contacts have been made in the last 12 months. These figures do not include where further attempts have been made.

Find out more about the WSP.