‘We are all finding it tough’: support is available

7 January 2021

Officers are being encouraged to talk more openly about their wellbeing as policing the pandemic continues to put an extra strain on them.

And Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair Gareth Jones is urging members to look out for their colleagues who may need support.

“We’ll continue to police this pandemic and protect the public and the NHS, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact on officers or that they don’t have things they’re dealing with at home,” said Gareth.

“We know that the pandemic has thrown up a huge number of mental health and wellbeing issues across society, and some of our colleagues are bound to be affected.

“I would like to encourage members to look out for each other, and to take time for themselves as well. Talking is huge. I would like to see my colleagues being more open about their own mental wellbeing and willing to talk and to listen to each other because that can only be of benefit, particularly in these testing times.”

Gareth’s comments have been echoed by Glyn Pattinson, chair of the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF), who encouraged officers to be more open about their wellbeing to help them deal with the demands of policing – particularly during the pandemic – in a blog for the national Police Federation website.

“We are all finding it tough right now, in every force, in every discipline,” said Glyn, “And if now isn’t the time to recognise the signs and show simple acts of kindness, I don’t know when is.”

Glyn said policing needs to recognise the demands and personal impact of dealing with serious and disturbing crime and also highlighted the pressures faced by overstretched detectives.

He said: “Unsurprisingly, policing can be very grim at times. No officer I know signed up thinking it will be easy, but while we embrace what we face with pride and the overwhelming will to protect the public we serve, it shouldn’t come with the expectation that we can all cope with anything and everything. We can’t. No-one can.

“Recognition must be given to officers and staff throughout policing for the constant commendable work they do and their unwavering nerve – particularly throughout the pandemic.”

Glyn continued: “Every detective I know wants to do the best job possible but there simply are not enough of us. Demand is outstripping resources and colleagues are working excessive hours, forgoing rest days, sacrificing time with their families and simply not getting enough rest. 

“The sad thing is that this is a normal working week for most, severely impacting on physical and mental wellbeing. It’s hard enough trying to process and cope with traumatic criminal investigations but this is in addition to supporting scared and distressed victims, working with partner agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service and seeing a number of legal processes through to completion to bring some form of closure for those affected.”

He added: “Officers tend to put their own welfare last and the misconception by many that officers can forget what they have seen once a case has finished and swiftly move onto the next – or rather juggle several cases at once – only adds to the strain. All of this is cumulative and lasts a lifetime.

“We need to get better at supporting each other – recognise when we are struggling, talk more openly about wellbeing and listen. There are sources of support out there but we need to see cultural change and we all have a role to play in that.”

The Federation is putting the focus on detectives throughout January.

Read more of Glyn’s blog.