In 2019 Police Care UK published interim results from Policing: The Job & the Life, highlighting that 1 in 5 serving police are living with either Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex PTSD, anxiety disorders triggered by traumatic events.
We are now pleased to be publishing the full summary report of this research and are calling on UK police chiefs and staff associations to take on board our findings and work alongside us to tackle the serious mental health issues affecting police officers, police staff and volunteers across the UK.
The research, conducted by the University of Cambridge and funded by Police Care UK, engaged with over 18,000 officers and staff to establish the UK’s first prevalence rate for PTSD in policing and the world’s first Complex-PTSD rate in a working population. With 90% of officers and staff exposed to trauma, some on a daily basis, 65% did not think that this is well managed in their force. There is more research underway which looks at how forces’ working conditions can affect PTSD levels and this will be published next year.
Since the publication of the interim findings, we have welcomed the commitment of the Home Secretary to develop a Police Covenant for England and Wales and the ongoing work of the National Police Wellbeing Service and Oscar Kilo. However, we cannot ignore that one in five of our police need access to treatment now and this needs to be urgently addressed.
In the last 6 months, Police Care UK has provided more than 2,500 sessions of specialist counselling, 16 times the level for the same period last year, made possible by the generous support of our donors and fundraisers. This is however only the tip of the iceberg.
Addressing this challenge should be a top priority if we value the importance of our police to society. The service needs to reduce its reliance on already overwhelmed generic NHS provision and standard Employee Assistance Programmes. We believe that policing cannot fix this alone and we therefore urge the police service to work with health authorities in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to act on our recommendations and work across policing to develop a policing mental health strategy that addresses the fundamental issues around trauma exposure, delivers consistent pathways to appropriate treatment, and tackles the stigma within the service.
Police Care UK makes sure both serving and former colleagues who suffer harm, and their families, have someone to turn to when things get tough. We continue to provide practical, emotional and financial support that is confidential, independent and accessible.