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Federation Chair highlights dangers of officers not getting enough rest

21 September 2023

The Chair of Surrey Police Federation has called for support for hardworking police officers as he fears “incessant” demand is “breaking” them.

Darren Pemble said it “cannot be right” that long shifts aren’t broken up by a break and that officers have to keep pushing on.

It comes after a study found more than 50 per cent of police officers who took part in a fatigue study were found to have at least one diagnosable sleep disorder.

The National Police Wellbeing Service’s Oscar Kilo has been working on a Sleep, Fatigue and Recovery Biometric Programme in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University and Merseyside Police.

A total of 300 response officers were kitted out in wearable technology for a week so they could be tracked 24 hours a day.

Darren said the results of the study were concerning, highlighting the need for intervention before there is an “avoidable tragedy”.

He said an environment has been created where policing and sleep simply don’t go together.

“It is obvious to many what the dangers are for officers not getting enough rest,” said the Federation Chair.

“Why is this so important you might ask? Well, fatigue from policing is real and the study shows it.

“With shift work and an ever-demanding environment and role, police officers are not getting enough rest or sleep.

“Shifts are long and very busy for many, where a lot of officers don’t even have the opportunity to take a meal break and a rest away from the demands of policing. How can this be right?

“Answers on a postcard please: How do we balance the needs of protecting the public and protecting the officers?”

“We need to be realistic and mindful about what we expect from officers as the incessant demand is breaking them.”

During this month’s Police Superintendents’ Association Conference, Andy Rhodes, Service Director for Oscar Kilo, said officers driving while fatigued was “a problem”.

He revealed in the coming years a roadside test to check how much sleep a driver has had is “likely.”

Darren said this is a risk well worth exploring, adding: “We know this is a risk for the public and road users, so we need to factor this into how we manage police drivers.

“We don’t want an avoidable tragedy with another police vehicle incident.”