POLICE investigating violent and sexual crimes against children are at serious risk of psychological harm, new research has found.
But help is available for officers in Hampshire through both through the Federation and the force.
Researchers from Portsmouth and Solent University spoke to officers from two forces over a year; they found that officers who investigate child exploitation are “particularly vulnerable to moral injury, PTSD, anxiety, depression and secondary trauma”.
Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “This is not a surprise at all. I think children are the most vulnerable in our society and we often struggle to understand how and why anyone could harm children, particularly in a violent or sexual way, so it’s understandable that these types of offences carry that greater risk of psychological harm to officers.
“Police officers are protectors, so when we see or hear about children suffering in the most horrific ways it’s not something that you can forget and it’s something that stays with you. I think of the incidents that I’ve been to over my service that have involved children, and they’re definitely the ones that stay with you more.”
Zoë said that if officers “have had a bad day and need to talk it through with somebody”, they could call the force’s employee support line, which also has an online chat facility and can supply counselling services. The force’s wellbeing toolkit also has lots of information for officers.
She added: “We’ve got access to counselling through the Federation as well and we can refer people to Police Care UK, who are really experienced in dealing with psychological harm. There is plenty of support around through the force and the Federation. Do come to us and we will help.”