Of­fi­cers’ men­tal health con­cern

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

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.

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