Single-Crewing Is Affecting Officers’ Mental Health

SINGLE-crewing policies are having an impact on police officers’ mental health, Hampshire Police Federation has warned, after figures emerged showing officers in England took more than 730,000 mental health sick days last year.

Officers spending more time alone means they are less able to talk about the difficult, dangerous and traumatic things they have seen at work, leaving them emotionally vulnerable, according to Chair Zoë Wakefield.

New figures showed that there were around 2,000 more officers off sick every day across the country, compared with the same period last year.

Zoë said: “There’s been a lot more of a focus on single crewing so more officers can go to more jobs, but then you go to one job, it might be really horrific, and then you’re just straight away sent to another job.

“When you’re with another colleague you get that opportunity, even if it’s just while you’re driving to the next job, to process what you’ve just been to and to talk about it. But that’s not happening any more. Officers are then taking home the weight of everything they’ve dealt with, after a really long shift, and those things build up.”

Austerity is also to blame, Zoë warned, meaning officers are working harder, “going to more horrific cases than they should do”, and having no-one to share them with.

They are also missing out on vital time away from work to process what they’ve seen because of the demand.

She added: “We need more police officers so that they’re not run ragged all the time. I think all forces can do more to support officers. We are very good at looking after people when they become poorly, but actually what we should be doing is looking after people from day one.

“Unfortunately, we see it too often where officers who’ve just gone to that one incident too many, that has then broken them completely and then they end up going out of the force on ill-health retirement, but being a shadow of the person they formerly were, which has a huge impact on their life outside of the police.”

If officers are struggling, they should tell someone; either a colleague on your team, a line manager or a Federation Rep.

There is plenty of support, from organisations including Police Care UK and Flint House. The Federation can also work with the force to get them counselling or psychological therapies, or arrange them a respite break at the Federation lodge.

Zoë added: “We have seen cases where, when people ask for that help early, they get that help and they then get better and are able to stay in policing.”

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