‘Star­tling’ num­ber of po­lice of­fi­cers have signs of de­pres­sion – warn­ing

Western Mail - - NEWS -

EIGHT out of 10 po­lice of­fi­cers are dis­play­ing signs of de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety as a re­sult of “do­ing too much”, the chair­man of the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion has warned.

Calum McLeod said that cut­backs in po­lice welfare depart­ments had de­pleted forces’ abil­ity to pro­vide enough sup­port and well­be­ing re­sources to their of­fi­cers, and re­vealed that some coun­selling ser­vices had been out­sourced as a re­sult.

But he said that the so­lu­tion was still not enough to ad­dress the “root causes” of the pres­sures felt by vis­i­ble and spe­cial­ist of­fi­cers af­fected and that the num­ber of ses­sions pro­vided was in­ad­e­quate.

Ef­forts to pro­vide coun­selling for of­fi­cers were also af­fected by long NHS wait­ing lists for men­tal health pro­vi­sion, Mr McLeod said.

Mr McLeod told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion: “The con­ver­sa­tion around men­tal health in polic­ing has be­come greater in re­cent years. There is a recog­ni­tion that po­lice of­fi­cers are hu­man, that they can be bro­ken and that their men­tal health is an is­sue. What we’re see­ing is eight out of 10 of­fi­cers, in a re­cent sur­vey, have come back and said they are feel­ing symp­toms of anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion.

“That is a very star­tling fig­ure when you look at the amount of po­lice of­fi­cers in the UK.

“They need to re­cu­per­ate to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble ser­vice to the pub­lic. If of­fi­cers aren’t feel­ing re­freshed and hav­ing rest be­tween their shift pat­terns, what you find is that the sit­u­a­tion of their men­tal health is ex­as­per­ated.”

He added that a re­duc­tion in a num­ber of of­fi­cers on the street has “sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts upon the pub­lic” and re­sulted in the work­load be­ing stretched out be­tween of­fi­cers. Around 21,500 fewer of­fi­cers are on the streets now, than nine years ago, he said.

He said that al­though mea­sures were be­ing put in place to help of­fi­cers suf­fer­ing from poor men­tal health, it didn’t “take away from the fact that the root cause of this is that they are do­ing too much, with not enough sup­port, with not enough rest”.

“Al­though we will re­main be­ing pro­fes­sional and try­ing to meet the pub­lic de­mand, that can­not con­tinue. Pub­lic safety is be­ing com­pro­mised, it needs to have proper re­sources ploughed into polic­ing.”

> There were al­most a quar­ter of a mil­lion rest days owed to 70,000 po­lice of­fi­cers in Eng­land and Wales as of Septem­ber 17 last year

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