Officers’ mental health concern
THE welfare of senior police officers in Surrey is being ‘carefully’ monitored after research revealed reduced budgets, new threats and staff cuts might be affecting their mental health.
A survey, conducted by the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, found half of senior officers experience symptoms of anxiety and 27% show signs of depression.
Four-fifths of those who took the survey also said their role has an ‘excessive depth and breadth of responsibility’, leading them to work excessive hours.
Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, president of the association, said: “It is frankly unacceptable that the senior operational leaders in policing are under so much pressure a quarter of them have signs of depression.
“These are people leading huge commands, some bigger than entire forces.
“These are people carrying responsibility for public safety, protecting the most vulnerable, for countering terrorism, for running firearms operations. It is not a healthy position for the service to be in, and it definitely is not in the interests of the public.”
According to a spokesman for Surrey Police, the force is aware of the ‘challenges officers face’ and is carefully monitoring their welfare.
Even though Surrey Police has not revealed how many of its officers suffer with mental health problems, it has outlined the services it provides to tackle the growing issue – including a mental health advocate scheme.
The spokesman said: “Mental health advocates work in all areas across the force and have undergone mental health training to help them support staff and officers, and identify mental health issues.
“They can also signpost to external agencies.”
Additionally, the force has invested in occupation health and wellbeing and psychological services available to all staff and officers.
The spokesman added: “We are innovative in finding various ways to offer support to those who need it, including peer support and postincident support.”
Surrey Police has also created an app called Back Up Buddy, which provides information on the symptoms and signs of mental health problems. It gives details on how to seek support and is a platform to share stories.
The association behind the survey wants to see six measures implemented to improve health and welfare among senior officers, including annual health screenings beginning within the next 12 months.