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4/5 Norfolk officers bogged down by mental health issues

Police - hi-vis

5:46am 21st April 2017

More than 4 out of 5 Norfolk police officers suffer from stress, low mood, anxiety or mental health issues due to their job.

With mental health being a leading cause for absence within the force, many believe it's down to the workload being too high.

Andy Symonds is Chairman of Norfolk Police Federation:

"The figures revealed by the survey both locally and nationally may appear startling but they are no surprise to us. Although Norfolk officers are better off than their colleagues in some other counties, we have been saying for some time that the changes the Government has made to policing have unintended consequences.

Our officers are relieved that with the precept on policing being raised again, it will go some way to relieve the stress and pressure of current staff by allowing the Force to recruit more front line officers, which in turn will hopefully decrease stress and lower sickness rates."

Although the current Chief Constable, Simon Bailey and his command team have endeavoured to maintain front line numbers of officers, workloads are increasing in both the patrol and station duties of front line officers resulting in many rank-and-file police officers in Norfolk being severely affected by the stress of the job and an increased number suffering from poor psychological wellbeing.

This is the reality that came out following further analysis on results from a survey into police officer demand, capacity and welfare conducted by the Police Federation of England and Wales last year.

Over 360 officers in Norfolk responded to the survey.

  • The survey found that two thirds of officers thought their workload too high.
  • Almost 9 out of 10 said they disagreed or strongly disagreed that they have enough officers to manage all the demands made on their team, with many having to forego their full rest breaks on a regular basis.
  • Due to the rural geography of the county, 80% of officers reported being single crewed either often or always over the previous 12 months, compared to the national figure of 73%.
  • Most officers stated that they have had 2 or more days off cancelled in the previous 12 months and some reported not being able to take their full entitlement of annual leave in the year.
  • 81% of Norfolk officers stated that they had experienced stress, low mood, anxiety, or other difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing over the previous 12 months. With almost all of these indicating that these feelings were caused or made worse by work.

Assistance to current serving officers is also being stepped up through charities such as The National Federation’s Welfare Support Programme, involvement with MIND’s Blue light, and ongoing work with forces, police charities and other representative bodies. This work is directly helping to make a positive difference to officers and their families and is paving the way to fill the gaps in diminished national health support services.