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Police Federation survey finds almost every officer is exposed to trauma in their career

A survey by the Police Federation has revealed almost every officer has been exposed to one traumatic experience in their career.

The Demand, Capacity and Welfare survey also found there is an increase in lone working with 76.1% of respondents from relevant frontline roles* indicating that they are often or always single-crewed.

The results also show:

  • Almost 9/10 (89.8%) officers say that there are not enough of them to manage the demands faced by their team or unit
  • Almost every police officer has been exposed to at least one traumatic experience in their career, with 61.7% saying they had experienced at least one of these types of incident in the last 12 months
  • 79% of officers say they have felt feelings of stress and anxiety within the previous 12 months with 94% of those saying these difficulties were caused or made worse by their job
  • 43.9% of respondents reported that they viewed their job as very or extremely stressful. This is a larger proportion than reported in the results from the 2016 Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey (38.6%) and almost three times that found in the general population by the HSE in 2010 (15%), and that found by the Scottish Health Survey in 2017 (16%)

John Apter, chair of the federation and a serving Hampshire police officer said:

"What we are seeing is a noticeable increase in the level of trauma that my colleagues are being exposed to on a daily basis.

"This is not just occasionally, this is relentless, and that takes its toll."

Speaking about figures which show an increase in lone working, John Apter said:

"That single crewing is more and more, and that creates a number of issues; one is my colleagues are not as safe as they could be, but also they are then going from job, to job, to job, it's merely fire brigade policing, and that's not giving the best police service to the public."

 PFEW’s National Vice-Chair Ché Donald, said:

“When officers work alone they are undoubtedly exposed to increased risk - for them and the public, not to mention the detrimental effect on their overall health and wellbeing. 

"It’s quite simple – policing is dangerous in every sense, and whilst single-crewing may work for some forces and certain types of enquiries, it is not acceptable the majority of the time.

“Forces are having their hands forced as they struggle to meet the increased demands placed on them, but this false economy of single-crewing merely creates the illusion of public safety. 

"Quite simply this is not sustainable and officers are suffering.”

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