Ex-of­fi­cer warns over men­tal health is­sues in po­lice force

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews - BY STEPHEN TOP­PING [email protected]­plc.com @CheshireLive

AFORMER po­lice of­fi­cer has claimed sick­ness lev­els will con­tinue to rise af­ter a re­port found that men­tal health is­sues are com­mon in the force.

Bob Fousert and Sally Hard­wick, in­de­pen­dent mem­bers of the po­lice and crime panel, vis­ited the oc­cu­pa­tional health unit at Cheshire po­lice’s HQ in Wins­ford.

They found that, along with skele­tal or mus­cu­lar in­juries, men­tal health prob­lems were the most com­mon rea­sons for of­fi­cers be­ing on long-term sick.

Those is­sues could ei­ther be workre­lated or caused by prob­lems out­side of work – and in their re­port, the two panel mem­bers asked how much re­spon­si­bil­ity Cheshire po­lice should bear in tack­ling men­tal health prob­lems.

Cllr Mick War­ren, in­de­pen­dent mem­ber for Cheshire East Coun­cil (CEC), served as an of­fi­cer in Cheshire po­lice for 22 years.

“The prob­lem is only go­ing to get worse down the line be­cause of­fi­cers are go­ing to serve for longer and will be older,” he said.

“I can tell you from ex­pe­ri­ence that wrestling with some­body on a Satur­day night at ● 2am in your mid-40s, you wake up the fol­low­ing day and it’s very fright­en­ing be­cause you haven’t got the strength you had when you were in your 30s – and you take longer to re­cover from a knock or a bang.

“But you don’t want to let your col­leagues down, so you come into work sub-stand- ard. You’re not 100% when you come into work.

“The is­sue is around the fund­ing of po­lice of­fi­cers and the in­creas­ing of age of ex­pected ser­vice in the fu­ture. Sick­ness lev­els will in­crease – there’s no doubt in my mind.”

Cllr Jan David­son, Labour mem­ber of Warrington Bor­ough Coun­cil, is a reg­is­tered men­tal health nurse.

She suggested that a lack of re­sources is con­tribut­ing to low morale in the force.

“When I started nurs­ing it was one in 10 peo­ple that could be ex­pected to have men­tal health is­sues – it’s now one in four,” Cllr David­son said.

“Morale in the NHS is rock bot­tom, as it is in the po­lice force, be­cause you haven’t got the num­bers, you haven’t got the peo­ple, and it’s all very well say­ing ‘do this and do that’ but you haven’t got the bod­ies.”

But Cllr Paul Find­low, Con­ser­va­tive CEC mem­ber, re­jected the idea that there is lit­tle that can be done to solve the prob­lem.

He added: “If you are say­ing that, you are ad­mit­ting there is a long-term prob­lem – which un­doubt­edly there is – which is never ca­pa­ble of be­ing rec­on­ciled or con­trib­uted to by way of a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment.”

Cllr Mick War­ren (Cheshire East, Ind, Mac­cles­field East)

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