Derbyshire Police Federation

‘Policing can be grim’: look after each other

6 January 2021

Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton is urging members to take time for their wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown.

Tony wants officers to be more open about their mental health and to look out for their colleagues who may be struggling with their own issues during the pandemic.

“Officers are only human,” said Tony, “They already have so much to deal with in terms of their day-to-day policing role, before being on the frontline during the pandemic and policing the latest lockdown.

“Add to that the fact my colleagues will have their own worries away from work, such as the health of loved ones or their finances, and you can see how stress and anxiety can become an issue.

“We would urge members to take time to look after their own wellbeing, and to look out for their colleagues. We know it’s a tough time, but we can all play our part in supporting each other. And where an officer needs further support, the Federation is here to help them find that support.”

Tony’s comments are echoed by Glyn Pattinson, chair of the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF), who encouraged officers to be more open about their wellbeing to help them deal with the demands of policing – particularly during the pandemic in a blog posted this week on the national Police Federation’s website.

“We are all finding it tough right now, in every force, in every discipline,” said Glyn. “And if now isn’t the time to recognise the signs and show simple acts of kindness, I don’t know when is.”

In the blog, Glyn said policing needs to recognise the demands and personal impact of dealing with serious and disturbing crime and he also highlighted the demands placed on over-stretched detectives.

He said: “Unsurprisingly, policing can be very grim at times. No officer I know signed up thinking it will be easy, but while we embrace what we face with pride and the overwhelming will to protect the public we serve, it shouldn’t come with the expectation that we can all cope with anything and everything. We can’t. No one can.

“Recognition must be given to officers and staff throughout policing for the constant commendable work they do and their unwavering nerve – particularly throughout the pandemic.”

Glyn continued: “Every detective I know wants to do the best job possible but there simply are not enough of us. Demand is outstripping resources and colleagues are working excessive hours, forgoing rest days, sacrificing time with their families and simply not getting enough rest. 

“The sad thing is that this is a normal working week for most, severely impacting on physical and mental wellbeing. It’s hard enough trying to process and cope with traumatic criminal investigations, but this is in addition to supporting scared and distressed victims, working with partner agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service, and seeing a number of legal processes through to completion to bring some form of closure for those affected.

He added: “Officers tend to put their own welfare last and the misconception by many that officers can forget what they have seen once a case has finished and swiftly move onto the next – or rather juggle several cases at once – only adds to the strain. All of this is cumulative and lasts a lifetime.

“We need to get better at supporting each other – recognise when we are struggling, talk more openly about wellbeing and listen. There are sources of support out there, but we need to see cultural change and we all have a role to play in that.”

The Federation is putting the focus on detectives throughout January.

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