Police Officers need to get more sleep – to not do so is high risk

Police officers are still not getting enough sleep – and they need to feel rested to do a good job and stay safe on the roads, Hampshire Police Federation has warned.

Zoë Wakefield, Federation Chair, said: “The biggest killer of police officers is car crashes driving home after late and night shifts – which is down to fatigue. This is huge. There has been a lot of studies done with people like pilots around their sleep and their rest patterns, and I know flying a plane is a much higher risk probably than being a police officer, but we are still expected to drive vehicles at high speeds, at any time of the day or night. There is a really high risk there.”

45% of police officers report sleeping less than six hours per night very often or all of the time, according to the National Police Wellbeing Service. Shift workers indicated more frequently experiencing poor rest with 27% of police officers reporting disturbed sleep, the research showed.

Zoë called for more work and research to be done to protect officers, given that they habitually carry firearms and Tasers, and frequently go into high-risk situations where split second decisions need to be made.

Zoë added: “Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, have done loads of really good work around sleep and fatigue, and I think there is an appetite by a lot of chief constables to do more. But there just aren’t enough people. Most officers can’t even get a meal break. They can’t even get time to sit and eat properly. You go round a police station and you will see officers sitting with their food at their desk. They’re typing away, doing their work, taking a bite of their sandwich or a bit of their meal and carrying on typing away.

“They’re not even getting proper breaks just to eat, so getting people proper breaks to help with fatigue, at the moment, is just not an option for forces. But this needs to be looked at because people aren’t getting enough rest and they are working on their days off. The fatigue is just going to build up and build up until people break or, sadly, something worse happens.”

“This is a real problem for shift workers. It is not unusual for people to only get 2-3 hours sleep between night shifts and then still come back into work and do another full nightshift.”

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