Research lays bare the scale of ‘invisible injuries’ in the police service
Research we funded into the injuries officers and staff suffer on duty has revealed that mental health illnesses are twice as likely to force them to take significant time off work than physical injuries.
More than 10,000 officers and staff participated in our survey, which shows that of those taking a week off work because of injury, 42% said it was because of depression, anxiety, stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – compared to 21% for a physical injury.
The research, which was conducted by the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, lays bare the scale of “invisible injuries” in the UK police service.
Officers and staff are telling their bosses that the service is facing a mental health crisis and that when the perils of police work make them ill, they are not being provided with the support that they need to get better and return to work.
“Our research tells us officers are being let down – perhaps unintentionally – but they are being let down,” says Gill Scott-Moore, CEO of the Police Dependants’ Trust.
“Policing is taking its toll on those with physical injuries, but even more so on colleagues who are dealing with psychological trauma. These invisible injuries need to be seen and understood, not just by the police forces but by politicians and the wider public.”
Other results from the survey of 10,987 serving police officers and staff include:
- Anxiety (42%) and depression (37%) were the two most common reasons police officers and staff were taking a week or more off work
- 26% of those surveyed had been injured in the last five years and had taken a week or longer off work; of these
- 16% had taken time off due to PTSD
- 86% of respondents said the service must prioritise support for mental health needs following a major incident
Recommendations in the report include:
- that police forces should recognise and encourage the disclosure of psychological injury and provide police officers and staff with information on how to recognise the symptoms of psychological injury in themselves and in colleagues, “working actively to mitigate the stigma attached to psychological injury.”
- awareness training for those seeking police promotion on the welfare and support needs of injured officers and staff
- improved support for those coming to the end of their policing career, especially those who are leaving because of an injury on duty
Alongside this, we’re calling for a more well-rounded approach to preventing, identifying, and supporting cases of post-traumatic stress amongst serving personnel and greater support for the mental health needs of former officers.
Get your copies of the reports:
- Download your copy of the serving officers/staff research report
- Download your copy of the former officers research report
- Download a summary of the research reports
Thank you to everyone who took part in the research and offered such candid responses.