A survey of rank and file officers has revealed they have more than twice the national average stress levels â€“ and one in two PCs wants to leave the job.
A poll of 809 officers in West Midlands Police showed that more than 38 per cent of constables and 45 per cent of sergeants reported work-related stress.
Dr Jonathan Houdmont, lecturer in Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham, said this compared to 15.5 per cent found in the UK working population, according to Health and Safety Executive data.
Among both constables and sergeants, the prevalence of work-related stress was higher in 2013 than an initial survey of the federated ranks in 2012.
Dr Houdmont, who carried out the research on behalf of West Midlands Police Federation, said PCs who â€œpresented with a case of work-related stressâ€ were 12 times more likely to be burned out, twice as likely to express a desire to leave policing, and reported significantly poorer job performance.
His report said: â€œSergeants who presented with a case of work-related stress were 10 times more likely to be burned out, were 1.8 times more likely to express a desire to leave policing, and reported significantly poorer job performance.â€
Dr Houdmont added: â€œIt might be the case that chronic exposure to high levels of stress-related working conditions has begun to show through in elevated burnout levels.
â€œThis is of concern given the implications of burnout for long term health impairment, sickness absence, and job performance.â€
The survey also revealed that more than one in two PCs who took part (51 per cent) â€œexpressed a desire to leave policingâ€ â€“ this was up from 45 per cent in the initial survey in 2012. Among sergeants, 39 per cent said they wanted to leave the job, slightly down from the 2012 figure of 42 per cent.
Chris Jones, secretary of West Midlands Police Federation, told PoliceOracle.com: â€œOfficer stress is a significant problem in our workplace.â€
According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 7,615 officers in the force at the end of March â€“ a reduction of 211 from the same point in 2012.
â€œWe have fewer officers available and the staffing levels are not right,â€ said Mr Jones.
â€œOfficers are taking up more and more work and we are spreading ourselves too thin on the ground. And we are losing officers through sickness because of this.â€
He said the Federation had shared the results of the survey with the force.
Mr Jones added: â€œIt is not the job of being a police officer that causes the stress.
â€œIt is the way they are being managed as a result of the staffing levels.
â€œSuch as rest days being constantly cancelled, shifts being constantly changed at short notice and not being able to take annual leave.â€
Chris Rowson, Head of Human Resources for West Midlands Police, said: â€œPolicing work is at times inherently dangerous, extremely hard work and sometimes stressful.
â€œWe will work alongside the Federation to address any concerns from officers and identify at an early stage anyone who may be suffering from stress. We offer all officers and staff health checks and offer counselling services to anyone who feel they may be experiencing stress.
â€œOnly around 10 per cent of officers took part in this survey, which is a relatively small sample size. That said, we are not complacent and will continue to work on the range of services and support we offer to officers and staff across the force.
â€œThe most recent internal survey (completed in July) showed that the majority of officers responded favourably to questions around training, pride in their work and job satisfaction.â€
From Police Oracle
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