One In Five Police Officers Suffering From PTSD With Many Unaware

10 May 2019, 11:56

93% of officers and staff said they would go to work as usual if suffering from psychological issues such as stress or depression.
93% of officers and staff said they would go to work as usual if suffering from psychological issues such as stress or depression. Picture: PA

A staggering one in five police workers is suffering from the symptoms of PTSD and over two-thirds of those suffering are unaware.

Sociologists from Cambridge University carried out research focused on police wellbeing with results showing 20% of officers and staff were displaying either PTSD or "Complex PTSD" symptoms.

Sleep disturbance, irregular heartbeats and sweats were some of the symptoms officers reported suffering following exposure to disturbing scenes.

Dr Jess Miller, who led the study, said dealing with "disturbing experiences is a defining part of policing," but employees have a right to expect resources to protect them from the impact of trauma exposure.

"A stiff upper lip attitude will not work in contemporary policing,” said Miller.

"Without such resources in place, the cost to policing and public safety will just mount up,” Dr Miller went on to say the issue was "a clinical and public sector crisis.”

Ché Donald, Vice-Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, says the findings should act as a "wake-up call". 

"If officers are breaking, then how can we expect them to adequately serve and protect the public? We need significant, centrally-funded investment and we need it now," he said.

One officer described how attending a series of murders left him with night terrors. “I’d wake up in hot sweats with constant dreams of the dead people,” he said.

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Wellbeing. said forces were working with the NHS and international policing colleagues on a suicide prevention strategy which will involve collecting data and reviews from suicides.

“We have a responsibility to look after the men and women whose job it is to keep us safe,” Rhodes said

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