‘Stressed and anxious police need extra resources’

15 Feb 19

Policing needs more money to ease the pressure on struggling officers, who are increasingly working alone at increased risk, a police association has warned.

Almost nine out of 10 (89.8%) police officers said there were not enough staff to manage the demands, and 79% said they had felt stressed and anxious within the previous 12 months, according to a Police Federation of England and Wales survey.

The Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey, which was published earlier this week, revealed that 76.1% of the 18,000 respondents said they often or always work single-crewed.

PFEW’s national vice-chair, Ché Donald, said: “When officers work alone they are undoubtedly exposed to increased risk – for them and the public, not to mention the detrimental effect on their overall health and wellbeing.

“Forces are having their hand forced as they struggle to meet the increased demands placed on them, but this false economy of single-crewing merely creates the illusion of public safety.”

He said the service “needs more money, more resources and more officers” to address the public safety demand and ease the pressure on officers “before it is too late”.

“Quite simply, this is not sustainable, and officers are suffering,” Donald said.

The federation added that in the past nine years the government has “sliced away” at the service, which has almost 22,000 fewer officers.

Donald said: “The shameful legacy of austerity is on an over-stretched service; staffed by stressed and traumatised officers. Yet those in Westminster consistently refuse to accept there is a problem or do anything about it.”

The survey also found that almost every police officer had been exposed to at least one “traumatic” experience in their career, with 61.7% saying they had experienced at least one incident in the past year.

Almost half (43.9%) said they thought their job was “very or extremely stressful”, which is almost three times that found in the general population (15%), according to government agency the Health and Safety Executive.

In December, the government was accused of “passing the buck” by funding police via council tax increases.

Last year, PF reported on whether the already ‘badly overstretched’ police services can offer a response that meets public expectation, as it faces further cuts. Read it here.

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