Resilience in the police force is at an “all-time low”, the vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has warned as a taskforce on police welfare pledged to tackle the issue.
Commenting as the police wellbeing roundtable was held this week on 16 January, Chè Donald, said: “While we welcome the event, it is long overdue. More needs to be done to tackle mental health issues across the board.
“Our own Police Federation survey of 17,000 officers in 2016 showed an alarming set of statistics around mental health of officers, with 39% seeking help with mental health issues – that cannot be right and Chiefs and the Government have to make a commitment to support officers in dire straits.”
The event, chaired by minister for policing and the fire service, Nick Hurd, aimed to see how the government can better help police chiefs to support their officers’ welfare, as well as review progress so far.
Hurd said he was hopeful recent government investment into welfare support for police would boost existing services.
“In July 2017, the Home Secretary awarded £7.5 million from the Police Transformation Fund over 3 years to pilot and, if it is successful, fund a dedicated national service to help provide enhanced welfare support,” he said.
Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, National Police Chiefs Council Lead on Wellbeing added he hoped the investment would enable the police to “accelerate our efforts and significantly step up our activity over the coming years.”
But Donald said government cuts - 13% fewer police officers between September 2010 and September 2016 according to the Home office – and fewer resources mean that help is needed urgently now.
“Resilience in the service is at an all-time low and officers are being put under inordinate amounts of pressure which is taking its toll on their health and wellbeing.”
“Officers are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources and it has been inevitable that the increased pressures they’re facing have had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing,” he said.
Hurd concluded by praising the police’s efforts in 2017: “Policing can be a very demanding job. Officers have demonstrated extraordinary courage and fortitude in the face of major challenges over the past year, including terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire. I am grateful to them for their tireless work and dedication to duty.
“It is imperative that policing provides excellent support to its officers and staff – which is why I’m keen to listen to those with the most experience on how to do this best.”
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