17 April 2018
It is vital that police officers are able take the time off they are owed in order to help safeguard their welfare and provide a quality service to the public.
That is the response of the Police Federation of England and Wales’ chair Calum Macleod to figures released today which show officers are owed almost 250,000 rest days.
The data obtained by the Press Association reveals that in some forces the average number of rest days owed per officer is more than 12 with only one force showing that no days at all are owed.
The figures, acquired via a Freedom of Information request submitted by the news agency, reflect a snap shot of the situation as it was on 17 September last year.
Mr Macleod said: “We do not have the resources at the moment to meet the demands of the public – whether that be in an event, a terrorist incident or whether that be from a police officer’s perspective of actually achieving their rest days.
“It is really important that anybody has rest between their shift patterns because if that isn’t happening what you tend to find is people getting fatigued very easily.
“If rest days are being banked, it’s a dangerous situation for the public, it’s a dangerous situation for policing and it needs to be addressed.”
Re-rostered rest days are accrued when officers have their original days off cancelled. This can happen in response to operational demands, staff sickness or when major incidents require additional police resources.
Mr Macleod said he acknowledges that the system must be flexible but that officers should not lose out.
“The country has recently experienced a number of major incidents such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the Grenfell fire, the nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and this month we have seen an increased police presence on the streets of the capital in response to the spike in serious violent offences – all of these events, and many others beside, mean officers have had to work longer hours or work their rest day.
“Every police officer accepts that this is part of the job and when they are called they will respond. But we have to recognise that these officers are missing out on valuable time away from the frontline and that can have very serious consequences on their health and their personal lives.”
“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 said.
“The conversation around mental health in policing has become greater in recent years. What we are seeing is that eight of 10 officers, in a recent Police Federation survey, have come back and said they are feeling symptoms of anxiety.
“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.”
Mr Macleod commented that members had also highlighted concerns around being unable to claim overtime, as well as the historic problems of officers who retire with rest days owed to them having to battle forces for payments due to them.
Video courtesy of Press Association
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