Cumbria Police Federation

COVID-19 has left officers feeling confused and fatigued, says Federation Chair

22 October 2020

Officers are fatigued by policing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chair of Cumbria Police Federation has said, adding: “The guidance varies so much almost day to day, leaving cops not just confused but running them ragged.”

In June, a survey carried out by Oskar Kilo and the College of Policing revealed that 45% of police officers frequently reported having less than six hours’ sleep and that shift workers were more likely to experience poor sleep quality and lower levels of emotional energy.

Cumbria Police Federation Chair Paul Williams said that fatigue was “certainly” one of the biggest issues in policing, and even more so during the pandemic.

He said: “The guidance varies so much almost day to day, leaving cops not just confused but running them ragged. There’s a lot of calls for COVID breaches coming in and cops having to respond to them, but also deal with demand as well. [The Government is] trying to put extra staff in place, but it’s only putting a plaster over the problem.

“It’s not just the virus itself and the lockdown rules, it’s the rise in crime in certain areas. You’ve got a rise in domestic violence, you’ve still got county lines drugs to deal with, you’ve still got other areas of crime that are increasing, although some are dropping.”

Paul added that it was hard to say how the situation could improve during such an unpredictable time. He said: “We can only deal with this in a reactive way, it can only be ‘fire-brigade policing’. You can’t proactively police because of the new guidelines and legislation that keep coming in. Also the local lockdowns increase the demand on local regions in policing.”

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, Service Director for Oscar Kilo, warned against it becoming the accepted norm that officers were constantly exhausted.

He said: "I believe fatigue is the next big thing after mental health issues and we need to reduce the stigma about fatigue as it is kind of accepted that everyone is exhausted."