90 days from today is Sat, 24 December 2022
6 January 2021
Lack of resources and higher demands means detectives are sacrificing their own wellbeing for the sake of their work, says chair of Hertfordshire Police Federation Geoff Bardell.
Geoff’s comments come as the Federation begins a month-long focus on the role of detectives.
“We’re all working longer hours and there are less of us, which means something has to give and that’s often rest, or time with our families,” says Geoff, “This can have a huge impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing.
“Detectives are regularly having to juggle multiple cases at once, which means dealing with investigations, while supporting victims too.
“It so often assumed that once a case is over, detectives can simply forget the work they have done and move on but this isn’t the case; these investigations can have a lasting effect on colleagues.
“It is vital that we shine a line on officers’ mental health to ensure the necessary support is available. If we don’t openly discuss our wellbeing, both staff and the Force could suffer and that will also impact on the service we provide to the public.”
As part of the Federation focus, Glyn Pattinson, chair of the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF), says more need to be done to recognise the demands and personal impact of dealing with serious and disturbing crime.
In a blog published on the national Police Federation’s website, Glyn says: “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. My PFNDF colleagues and I want to bring to light the challenges detectives face; the unrelenting volume of serious and complex criminal investigations, with little or no respite.
“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.”
Glyn says officers tend to put their own welfare last with many people under the misconception that they can forget what they have seen once a case has finished and swiftly move onto the next, or juggle several cases at once. But this only adds to the strain, with a cumulative impact that lasts a lifetime.
He called on officers to help each other but he also wants to see a cultural shift.
“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,” Glyn explained.
“Throughout this month, we will be sharing personal stories from officers who have sought support, officers who have helped colleagues, and we will shine a light on the fantastic detective work that goes on day in and day out.
“We are all finding it tough right now, in every force, in every discipline and if now isn’t the time to recognise the signs and show simple acts of kindness, I don’t know when is.”