Blog: How are you feeling?

21 August 2018

Ché Donald

PFEW Vice-Chair Ché Donald

Vice-Chair Ché Donald explains why it's vital for you tell us your experiences.

When you as police officers are asked why you joined the job no doubt most of you will say "to help people” or “to make a difference”. And it’s often said that policing is a vocation – we certainly don’t do it for the money!

But my question is – who looks after you; who protects the protectors?

Last week the world once again witnessed the unfaltering bravery of my colleagues. When a car hit a barrier outside the House of Lords they were the ones running towards the unknown threat – willing to put their own lives at risk to save others.

Their actions were widely praised with the following day’s newspapers full of warm words. But we all know the saying about today’s newspapers being tomorrow fish and chip wrappers…

What I want to ensure is that the support and respect for these officers – and their colleagues across the country – doesn’t disappear as quickly.

I am passionate about looking after my members and ensuring the welfare of my police colleagues.

Latest figures show we have lost more than 21,300 officers since 2010 – that’s a drop of 15% - the lowest number of police officers since 1996.

With officer numbers decreasing and crime rates rising, it is clear the police service cannot meet the demands heaped upon it.

Policing is a family and families look out for each other. And when a family member is struggling you do what you can to help.

That is why the work the Federation does to highlight the issues affecting police officers’ welfare is so important to me.

Today we launch our second Demand, Capacity and Welfare survey. And I would urge every one of our members to complete it. The results are vital to help us evidence the reality of the stresses and pressures officers are dealing with day in day out.

The last time we conducted this survey the results were stark:

• 66 per cent of officers indicated that their workload was too high

• 58 per cent felt they did not have enough time to do their job to a standard of which they could be proud.

• 80 per cent of officers saying they have suffered from stress, low mood and anxiety and of those 92 per cent said their psychological difficulties had been caused or made worse by work

It paints a bleak picture. And I fear this year’s results may be even more damning.

I could provide an endless list of incidents, circumstances and stories of first-hand experiences that police officers are having to cope with on a daily basis. Countless examples of colleagues being unable to keep up with the demands and pressures placed upon them, or those suffering with the cumulative impact of injuries or the multiple traumas they have been exposed to. And of the effect that stress has as it permeates out to officers’ friends and family. All of this as a direct result of just doing their job.

And while such anecdotal evidence is invaluable, what this survey will do is provide a strong indisputable evidence base, with academic rigour. It is research which cannot be ignored or dismissed and it gives us the ability to build a long-term picture of the issues being faced.

The data is used to influence the Government and to help shape policy, which will hopefully lead to improvements for the officers on the frontline dealing with the reality of post-austerity policing.

The thin blue line is in danger of fracturing and who will be there to pick up the pieces if it does?

It is vital that we protect the protectors so they can continue to do what they joined for – to protect the public and keep our communities safe.