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10 June 2021
West Mercia PCs Rich Hughes and Charlotte Davies talked about the stresses of a typical day at work and raised the question of where responsibility lies for the wellbeing of officers.
Rich said: “The pressure is on even before you get through the doors of the police station.” Officers can often be present but not really listening in briefings because of the competing priorities awaiting attention, he added.
Charlotte explained her crime basket is usually in double figures, getting through it or keeping appointments to see victims of crime is tough because an urgent call can come in to deploy at any time.
She explained: “It is disappointing when we have to contact our victims and tell them the arrangement we’ve made to take their statement or get their suspect in for an interview has to wait. I don’t always get the chance to send apologies, so it does make you feel guilty.”
The pair also talked about the risk of being assaulted and admitted that there are occasions where the pressure of this, alongside an excessive workload becomes exhausting.
West Mercia Fed rep, Sgt Steve Butler spoke at the session about a patrol officer colleague who left the job citing workload, pressures of the job and paperwork as his reasons for leaving. He quoted another officer who had said: “To be honest I’m fatigued by the job. While only just promoted I’m ready to leave.”
The session also included live questions from delegates, put to PFEW’s national wellbeing lead Hayley Aley and Andy Rhodes, the former chief constable who now works for the Oscar Kilo police wellbeing organisation.
Hayley responded to questions about why PFEW funds welfare support vans and a hotline.
She said: “Police officers, from the start of their shift through to working overtime, are faced with real pressures. There are fixes we can implement, like the welfare van. Checking on officer’s wellbeing has real benefits. If we can work together to make sure the prevention is there, we will see fewer officers in crisis support than we do now.”
Andy added: “Wellbeing is a journey. We have come a long way in a short time. Just seeing officers have the confidence to speak up in a system that has not generally encouraged this in the past, shows how we’ve improved.
“We’re asking people to be more confident to put their hand up over their mental health. The big challenge is to make sure the right levels of support are there for them.”