Toll on officers 'disgraceful and unsustainable'

12 June 2018

A report analysing the state of policing in England and Wales has identified demand, capacity and welfare as the major issues facing modern policing, echoing the Federation’s work in these areas.

In the annual State of Policing report published today, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor, highlighted that the dedication and sense of duty by hard-working officers is masking a failure by senior leaders to adequately assess current and future demand.

Calum Macleod, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “This report highlights what many of us involved in policing already know – that it is the dedication and a sense of duty of hard-working officers that keeps the police service running.

“Sir Thomas clearly states in his report that because frontline police officers and staff can be relied on to get the job done there is less pressure on leaders to bring about much-need change. But to rely on frontline officers consistently working at a level which goes way beyond what it is expected of them is a disgraceful and unsustainable state of affairs.

“Chief Officer Teams and the Home Office, must act on this report and the work we have done, and take immediate action to ease the huge burden faced by our members.”

The report also identified the knock on effect that the increased demand is having on officers’ health and wellbeing and how that can negatively affect their ability to do their job, ultimately resulting in members of the public being put at risk.

It states that officer welfare is of “first importance” and that, “If a police force’s most important assets – its people – are under undue strain, whether in terms of workload or the nature of the work they do and the effects of that work on them, the force’s ability to serve the public is compromised.”

Mr Macleod continued: “This only serves to reinforce what our research in Demand, Capacity and Welfare has already shown.

“Police officers are facing unprecedented demands with ever diminishing resources and their health and wellbeing, and their ability to serve the public, is being seriously affected. 

“In our most recent survey 80 percent of officers who responded said they have experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety, or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over last 12 months – 80 percent of those indicated that their psychological difficulties had been caused or made worse by work.

“Officers experience things most people won’t experience in their lifetime – causing profound and lifelong effects on their mental and psychological welfare.

“It is vital that a consistent approach to safeguarding and support is implemented across the country so that we can protect the people who work tirelessly to keep us safe.”

The report also highlighted concerns around the issue of child mental health stating that if public bodies do not work together to tackle problems properly at an early stage, before they escalate into criminality, they are “simply storing up problems for the police and the rest of society.”

Mr Macleod added: “The police service is too often seen as the service of last resort having to pick up the slack for other agencies. It was recognised just last week at the Home Select Committee debate on the ‘Future of Policing’ that an overwhelming amount of police time and resource is spent on dealing with vulnerable people.

“Whilst many forces work closely with local health services the government needs to put more support and funding in place to alleviate the pressure on the police service so that officers can spend more time solving traditional crime rather than filling gaps for other over stretched services.”

Elsewhere the report lamented the fragmented and slow progress in the upgrading of technology available highlighting concerns around a lack of long-term planning.

“It is vital that officers are provided with the appropriate equipment and training to be able to keep pace with the ever changing world. But in order to do this it is crucial that adequate funding, guidance and support needs to be provided from central government to ensure consistency and provision across the country,” concluded Mr Macleod.

 

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