West Yorkshire Police Federation Wellbeing Lead Aaron Horsfall said it is important to recognise the crucial role that response police carry out.
He said: “The week was needed to highlight the issues that officers and staff are facing at this time. Our colleagues are increasingly struggling with anxiety or workplace stress about Covid-related matters. For example, concerns over PPE, assaults by members of the public, pressures on them individually due to their colleagues being Covid-related absent and the day-to-day challenges of policing under the Government guidelines.
“This is on top of the matters that others may be dealing with, such as bereavements (Covid-related or otherwise), relationship strains due to the global situation and anything else that may increase primary issues within their mental health.”
Aaron cited increasing workload and a lack of downtime between jobs as a contributing factor that could affect response officers’ mental health.
He explained: “The challenges of being a response cop are well known. They are the first point of call to everything and the thin blue line is ever decreasing.
“Workloads are increasing, with more complex crimes and laws being passed in Government. Response officers do not get time to decompress following a traumatic incident, the list goes on.
“What we need is adequate Occupational Health Centres to be able to fast track and treat the officers and staff who are struggling.
“There needs to be a better HR process which allows line managers and the organisations to flag these issues quickly and signpost them to the relevant care provider as soon as possible.
“We educate officers to see the signs within themselves and colleagues and empower those individuals to speak out.
“We should look at the latest medical advice and change the view on recuperative rest periods during shifts, which will assist officers’ fatigue and ultimately their mental health and prevent potential early burnout.”
PFEW National Board member and former West Yorkshire Rep Nick Mosey agreed that response policing was one of the most challenging roles of the job.
He said: “We all joined the job knowing it wasn’t going to be easy. Response police officers are often the first on the scene to everything from murders, to road accidents, to violent people and everything in between.
“They’re expected to be an expert on all things by the public and those that manage them, and when they fall short of this, the criticism can be quite hurtful. This is bound to take its toll on even the most resilient of our colleagues.”
Nick added: “Wellbeing has been an often-used phrase in police stations over the last few years. In my experience it often lacks meaning and consistency. Wellbeing must be meaningful if it’s to deliver tangible benefits to our officers.
“We need to put our officers first, before demand, before performance. They need to be given the appropriate rest breaks within and in between their tours of duty.
“We need to be more proactive in identifying how many traumatic incidents individual officers are attending and putting appropriate interventions in place when this is flagged.
“We need to be conscious of lone working and the effects this can have on officers who are single crewed for long periods of time. As a service, we can tackle these issues. Everyone has a part to play and we must do this together.”
Date posted: April 12, 2021