Fighting Fatigue

Policing needs a culture change to help tackle fatigue, Hampshire Police Federation has said, as a new programme is launched to help police officers with poor sleep.

A sleep study piloted by Merseyside Police and Liverpool John Moores University has seen officers wearing a BioStrap device for 120 days to measure heart rate variability, respiratory rates, sleep time and sleep type. The study is now being rolled out to 27 forces, so that more officers have a better idea about their tiredness and recovery rates.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “This is really important, because up until recently the biggest killer of police officers was officers crashing driving home after lates and night shifts. I think we expect a lot of police officers. We expect them to be fully with it 24 hours a day. Tiredness is going to be a factor.

“Because of a lack of resources, we’ve got more officers working 12-hour shifts, and more officers working rest days, so they’re losing that recovery time. We’ve also got a lot of officers who have to work overtime on their rest days for financial reasons. I think there needs to be a change in culture in policing.”

There was a personal responsibility from officers to be physically and mentally fit to be on duty, Zoë said, but she added: “Everybody’s got a life outside of policing, so we need to support people when other things get in the way, for instance if they’ve got a newborn.”

She also pointed out that supervisors had the flexibility to look at their team and not pick the same people to work late every time, adding: “That should be happening across the board.”

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