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Increasing pressures forcing officers to quit force, Police Federation warns

By Deborah McAleese

Published 28/09/2015

Mark Lindsay said that numerous officers were starting to show signs of mental exhaustion and post-traumatic stress
Mark Lindsay said that numerous officers were starting to show signs of mental exhaustion and post-traumatic stress

Experienced officers are leaving the PSNI because of the increasing pressures of the job, the chairman of the Police Federation has warned.

Mark Lindsay said that numerous officers were starting to show signs of mental exhaustion and post-traumatic stress.

He also warned that officers were struggling to find a balance between family and work life due to difficulty securing time off.

Concern has consistently been raised over police manpower levels, with PSNI bosses admitting that an additional 180 officers are needed to maintain operational resilience.

The manpower gap is being plugged with overtime. "We have numerous people now starting to show issues of mental exhaustion," said Mr Lindsay.

"Post-traumatic stress-type issues are manifesting and it is not just down to shootings and bombings. It is also from some of the things they are seeing on a daily basis - the traumatic deaths, the child sexual abuse, all those type of things."

He added: "A lot of officers are leaving at the moment who feel the pressures are too much.

"What you have is a lot of experience leaving the organisation."

Mr Lindsay said that due to reduced resources, officers were finding it difficult to get days off and their rest days were often being cancelled at short notice.

"This means officers are struggling with family life and work-life balance. There is evidence that some people are getting just one full weekend off in three months.

"People are having rest days cancelled at short notice. This is disrupting things like childcare, family plans.

"Once or twice you could accept it happening, but when it is happening all the time alarm bells start ringing," he added.

The Federation chairman said that if additional funds were not going to be made available then there needed to be an urgent review of what officers were asked to do.

He said that other organisations and bodies needed to step up to their responsibilities and not just rely on the PSNI.

"If a vulnerable person goes missing from a psychiatric hospital the police are deployed. Often the police helicopter is also deployed at a cost of around £10,000 an hour. Police have no problem assisting the search for missing people, but there is an element of responsibility that falls on the health trusts. And then we have the PPS, officers being detailed to court duty and there is no prospect of them giving evidence. In some cases six officers are sitting in court.

"There's no suggestion the police won't do these things, but we need to work with other agencies to look at some of these areas" he said.

Mr Lindsay added: "The PSNI is under-resourced financially and in terms of numbers... and it is affecting officers' wellbeing."

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