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Police cuts are affecting the mental health of officers in Hampshire

The Hampshire Police Federation chair, Alex Charge, has been speaking to us following the publication of new research which shows one in five police officers in the UK are suffering from PTSD.

A study by Cambridge University has shown that 21% of police officers who responded reported symptoms consistent with PTSD or the more severe Complex PTSD (CPTSD).

Of those, 73% were unaware they had either PTSD or CPTSD.

The 'Policing: The Job and The Life' is a survey of 17,000 police officers, from 47 forces in the UK.

Two thirds of those who responded to the survey reported a psychological or mental health issue which they felt was a direct result of police work.

The research also revealed that 69% of officers felt that trauma is not well managed in their force.

And almost all of officers, 93%, said they still go to work even when suffering from a work-related psychological issue.

The national Police Federation for England and Wales have said the findings of this survey "should be a wake up call for the Home Office and senior police leaders."

Alex Charge, who's the Chair of their Hampshire branch, has told us that cuts in policing is taking a toll on officers: "There's just not enough people.

"Historically there was that downtime to just sit down and talk with your colleagues about it and how it's made you feel.

"They are few and far between now, and you will just go from job to job, you finish your work, you go home, and you get up the next day and come and do it all again.

"There is just no time to take a pause from it.

"You are on the frontline all the time, there's no back office places to have a rest and recuperation.

"You are just always being faced with these sorts of incidents."

He added that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is also a problem: "There is a stigma, certainly within policing.

"Historically, we just don't talk about things, we just go into police mode and you just deal with it.

"I think we are starting to change that and people are becoming more confident to be able to go to their supervisors and line managers and say look I'm having a problem here can you help me."

Mr Charge told us the federation is taking steps to support officers: "We've recently had some money from the Police and Crime Commissioner to allow for psychological screening of all staff in Hampshire, if they want it.

"That will help us identify, and identify for those people with PTSD and are unaware of it, that they might be developing those sort of symptoms and allow us to support them.

"There is lots of work going on in the wellbeing space around sleep and how you can manage those sorts of things.

"So there's lots of work ongoing now we've defined and recognised the problem, but I think the key thing is about recognising the problem and being able to talk about it."

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