More Can Be Done To Help Fatigued Officers

A LOT more can be done to help police officers who are reporting high levels of fatigue, according to Hampshire Police Federation.

Vice-Chair Zoe Wakefield was responding to a survey that showed almost half of officers frequently get less than six hours’ sleep.

More than 34,000 police officers and staff from England and Wales responded to the national police wellbeing survey – carried out by Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, and the College of Policing.

Almost half (45%) of officers reported frequently getting fewer than six hours’ sleep, with shift workers more likely to experience poor sleep quality and report lower levels of emotional energy and job satisfaction.

The survey, wich ran for eight weeks between November 2019 and January 2020, also showed that 49.1% of officers reported having had two or more rest days cancelled in the past 12 months, with 17.7% reporting four or more rest day cancellations.

The findings highlighted a clear association between the cancellation of rest days and a reduction in wellbeing for officers.

Zoe said: “Hampshire is pretty good at this, but we hear horror stories. We tend to not cancel rest days unless it’s a last resort.

“If demand is really high we’ll increase people’s hours at work and turn them into 12-hour shifts instead of 10, to create more resilience rather than cancelling people’s rest days. If you cancel people’s rest days, they’re having less time away from work and less time to recoup and recover.”

Zoë added that from her personal experience from working shifts, getting fewer than six hours’ sleep was familiar.

She said: “Even on your days off you don’t get good sleep because your body clock’s all over the place. You can still feel shattered going back on your first day shift because your body clock hasn’t recovered and you’ve found yourself awake at two or three in the morning on your days off.”

She said a lot more could be done to help officers suffering with fatigue, and pointed to Australia and Canada, where line managers are given the power to tell their officers to have a nap if they’re tired.

She said: “That has been something that has been briefly discussed in our force, but it’s obviously going to take a brave Chief Constable to be the first one that says, ‘I’m going to allow my officers to have naps on nights’.

“But I think it’s definitely worth trying to see if it has an impact. If Canada and Australia are doing it then why can’t we?”

Oscar Kilo said the results of the survey would help them prioritise research into how to tackle fatigue.

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, NPCC Wellbeing Lead and Service Director for Oscar Kilo, said: “We are linking in with staff associations, wellbeing leads across the UK and experts from around the world to establish a specific area of work on fatigue as part of the national programme to ensure we address this.”

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