There are not enough police to keep public safe

22 May 2018

The cliffhanger vote came during a debate on a creaking police service plagued by dwindling police numbers and rising demand, causing a catastrophic impact on officer welfare.

The audience heard that 80% of police said they suffered from stress, low mood and anxiety because the service had lost more than 20,000 officers since 2010.

Sixty six per cent  said their workload was too high; they were 11 times more likely to have poor mental health, seven times more likely to suffer from poor morale and three times more liked to be fatigued.

The shocking figures – from the Federation’s 2016 Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey – has prompted the organisation to launch a special steering group with senior policing stakeholders to tackle the problem. The Home Office, National Police Chiefs Council, College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners have all signed up.

The situation is so dire in London, that nearly 220,000 rest days have either been re-rostered or cancelled throughout the Met, according to Metropolitan Police Federation chair Ken Marsh.

He said : “Officers dread logging on to see if the weekend they were looking forward to has been cancelled yet again. It causes stress and anxiety; it doesn’t end and that figure never reduces. How do you think we can move forward if my colleagues are facing this all the time?”

John Sutherland, a former Met Superintendent who was medically retired in February after being worn down by the job told the audience: “These are the most challenging times for policing in this country since the end of World War Two. It’s more complicated and the risk is rising. Every single one of you remains a terrorist target. And in the case of Keith Palmer it’s about risking it all.

“I spent more than 25 years working with heroes and what troubles me at the moment is that some of those heroes are breaking. “

John put his breakdown to the ‘wear and tear of police life, the shifts, the hours, the intensity and repeated exposure to trauma.’

Federation vice chair and welfare lead Che Donald said: “With the increased demand and decreased numbers, we cannot deliver a service we can be proud of. We cannot deliver a service to adequately keep the public safe. Cancelled rest days, leave embargoes, single crewing, reductions in neighbourhood policing; and unworkable unsocial and unmanageable shift patterns. All of these are attempts to meet the current demands being placed on the service. All of them are failing and all of them impacting on the health and wellbeing of our members and our ability to protect and serve the public.”

The head of HMICFRS Tom Winsor said his organisation was bringing in Force Management Systems which will force Chief Constables to be honest about their demand, capacity and welfare issues. The session also heard from Rob Flanagan, on welfare toolkit Oscar Kilo and Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg.

View recommendations from the stakeholder workshops.