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Why officer welfare is critical

Thursday, 16 February 2017


Health and safety secretary, John Murphy talks about the issue of capacity in a service under pressure.

The Federation’s officer, demand, capacity and welfare survey has unveiled the true extent of a police service under pressure.  Years of budget cuts have wreaked havoc on the police service and we can now evidence the emotional and physical toll this is taking on beleaguered officers who are doing a whole lot more with less.

Where is the resilience and more importantly, how much more can our officers take?

Notably, the results show that capacity is a huge issue;

  • 73% said that their team/unit had a minimum officer staffing level but a fifth went on to say that this level was ‘Never’ or ‘Rarely’ achieved.
  • Almost all respondents (94%) considered that failure to meet minimum officer staffing levels had a ‘major ‘ or ‘moderate’ effect on their ability to meet demand.
  • 82% of respondents said that they don’t have enough officers in their team/unit and the vast majority said they generally don’t have enough officers to manage the demands faced by their team or unit (85%) nor do their job properly (78%). In addition, two-thirds (64%) said that if their team/unit were struggling to meet demand, they could not get help from officers in other teams/units.

As a police officer of 26 years and a federation rep for six years, I’ve seen first-hand what officers have to deal with and the effect the job takes on their health and personal lives.

Policing has far too many officers working under intolerable levels of stress and this is leading to long term illness.  We are seeing good officers make mistakes due to the pressure of work.

Officer health and wellbeing should never be compromised - we all have a duty to ensure that they are provided with the best support and resources available.

We have taken steps to better understand the issues of mental health, but forces and government now need to step up and offer the necessary support in a consistent way.

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