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West Midlands Police Federation

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New survey reveals pressure on officers

13 February 2019

New Survey

West Midlands Police Federation chair Rich Cooke says years of cuts and under-investment have left the Force ‘over-stretched and under-staffed’.

He was speaking as the national Federation’s new Officer Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey revealed that 84 per cent of members in the West Midlands feel there are not enough officers to do the job properly. That is slightly less than the national figure of 90 per cent.

The survey, which is published today (Wednesday, 13 February) also found that 73 per cent of West Midlands Federation members feel their workload is too high or much too high. Nationally, that figure is 72 per cent.

And 79 per cent of respondents indicated they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months, in line with the national figure.

Rich said: “This is an important survey but it makes for concerning reading. It shows that our service is over-stretched and under-staffed leaving us unable to effectively meet the needs of our communities.

“Years of cuts have taken their toll on the service and on individuals, who are increasingly feeling the stress and strains of policing on a shoestring. Something has to change. The Government has to recognise the invaluable work of our members and invest in policing so we can properly protect the public.”

The survey, which is the only national policing survey of its kind, was carried out by the Police Federation of England and Wales, throughout August and September last year. More than 18,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector gave their views on the demand currently experienced by the service and how this has affected them. This is the second time this survey has been conducted, the first being in 2016, with 884 responses from West Midlands Police, representing a 14 per cent response rate.

Nationally, the results show:

  • Almost nine out of 10 (89.8 per cent) officers say that there are not enough of them to manage the demands faced by their team or unit.
  • Almost every police officer has been exposed to at least one traumatic experience in their career, with 61.7 per cent saying they had experienced at least one of these types of incident in the last 12 months.
  • 79 per cent of officers say they have felt feelings of stress and anxiety within the previous 12 months with 94 per cent of those saying these difficulties were caused or made worse by their job.

National Federation vice-chair Ché Donald said: “The police service’s most valuable resource is its people and these results should be a huge red flag to the Government, chief constables and the public. Officers are stressed, exhausted and consistently exposed to things people should never have to see – and these results show just how much it is taking its toll.”

He added: “I compel the Home Secretary who claims he gets policing to read this report and act on it and when he is finished reading it, share it with the Treasury. We need more money, more resources and more officers, so this public safety emergency can be addressed, and the pressure on officers eased before it is too late. The once revered British model of policing is currently on its knees and facing extinction, we need to act now to save it.”