Police stress twice as high as UK workforce average

15 March 2017

Mental Health

Figures from the Police Federation of England and Wales' (PFEW) welfare survey have revealed that stress levels across the police service are twice as high as levels seen across other working sectors.

Che Donald, the Federation’s lead on police officer mental health, said: “Mental health is indiscriminate – forget about your sex, race, and religion or in fact any protected characteristic.

“Those in emergency services are twice as likely to suffer with mental health issues and with police officers spread so thin in recent years but demand remaining the same, or even increasing in certain areas, it’s no wonder sickness levels are increasing, particularly for those with psychological problems.

“Are we as a police service getting any better? Yes is the short answer but we are nowhere near where we should be or can be. The stigma associated with mental health in policing is being tackled and improving. Slowly but surely the message is getting across.

“One has to remember though that the biggest expense to any police service is its wage bill, the officers and staff who deliver policing to the public – the protectors. This makes them the most important asset to policing, more important than buildings, equipment, IT systems and tactics.  Without the people the service cannot be delivered.

“All chief officers have a duty of care to look after their staff and any scheme that a staff organisation comes up with should not let them abdicate their responsibility.

“In the current bubble of policing that we are all caught up in, with increased demand, depleted resources, austerity extending to work and personal finance, it’s understandable that doing this job will take its toll more so now than ever. All this without even talking about the role itself, the exposure to trauma, the impact of dealing with the depravities of crime, not to mention the realities of abuse and assault directed at us.”

Mental health is an increasing concern for the PFEW, who have reported a spike in users for the Welfare Support Programme run in conjunction with the Police Firearms Officers’ Association.

In the welfare survey carried out last year, 39 per cent of police officers reported suffering from work-related stress.

That compares worryingly to the UK Workforce figure of 16 per cent, and the UK Civil Service survey, of which just 14 per cent of respondents said they viewed their job as very or extremely stressful.