Six years on from the current Government reforming Policing and taking the country through austerity is starting to take its toll on front line officers. 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.

So how will the precept help? Norfolk Constabulary is in need of more officers to just to replace the number of officers who have reached retirement age or are leaving for other reasons. The Force will be recruiting hard through the coming months and possibly years to maintain the number of officers to where they should be.

Andy Symonds, Chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, which represents the counties officers up to and including the rank of Chief Inspector has said ‘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.’

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.

Andy Symonds continued “Officers are increasingly expected to deal with all manner of things that many other people would walk away from and other public services should be dealing with. Officers are extremely busy throughout their shifts and are working regular overtime, and so it is fundamentally important that officers need to feel that they can speak out when they need help and they can have confidence that the service will treat them with the utmost dignity and discretion to help get them back on track. We are grateful that the Force‘s Senior Officers and the Police and Crime Commissioner understand but the findings of the survey are a reality for the Government and MP’s of all parties whom must sit up and listen before it is too late”

Notes to Editors

*All percentages based on those who responded.

The results are from further analysis from last years’ Officer Demand, Capacity, and Welfare Survey, undertaken by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).  Approximately 17,000 officers completed the online survey.

A campaign by the Police Federation of England and Wales to Protect The Protectors starts in earnest on 6 February and is just one area where the organisation is seeking a change in legislation so that officers who are assaulted in the course of their duties are afforded better protection.  More information can be found at www.polfed.org/assaults

The Police Federation of England and Wales, represents almost 122,000 police officers up to and including the rank of Chief Inspector. Established by statute, it is responsible not only for the welfare of our members, but also ensuring that their views on all aspects of policing, including relevant legislation, are relayed to government, opinion formers and key stakeholders.  The Police Federation’s membership status currently stands at 98%. For more information visit www.polfed.org

The recruitment lines open again on 13th March for Constable recruits for both Norfolk and Suffolk.