Pc's resignation letter claims staff 'not coping' amid 'a total lack of support'
A police officer has written a powerful resignation letter saying that she had to quit before the lack of resources and support on the job "kills me both physically and mentally".
Pc Laura Beal told her friends and family in an emotional Facebook post that it had "truly been an honour" to serve with Devon and Cornwall Police for 13 years but that the pressures of her role had left her suffering from stress, depression and anxiety.
Ms Beal, who appeared in promotional material for the force, including on a leaflet offering information to victims of crime, made her resignation letter, addressed to the force's chief constable Shaun Sawyer, public.
In it she said the force was "more like a business now in how we function in relation to finance and 'customer' relations, yet we are so far behind on employee rights".
She wrote: "Your staff are not coping, and are suffering because there is no one looking out for them.
"Please take it from someone who has been personally affected and has been so low she has wondered what the point of it all is, and only through her friends and family been able to see that there is more to life than policing.
"Front line response is where you need to focus your time and money. This is where the buck stops."
In a statement, Devon commander chief superintendent Jim Colwell said he was aware of Ms Beal's resignation and was sympathetic to the reasons she had given.
Ms Beal, who followed in her father's footsteps into policing, joining in 2004, aged 19, said the "total lack of support both governmental and from the Chief Officer Group has made me lose all faith in the job I loved" .
In the letter she explained that she was expected to go on patrol as a response officer covering mid-Devon with just one other officer most days.
"This is meant to be adequate staffing and safe," she wrote.
"How this can be acceptable is beyond belief. I have always worked to the best of my ability as I had pride in what I did. This however is not possible any more."
She added: "I am leaving before this job kills me both physically and mentally.
"I am not only sad because I see what is potentially an amazing career get ruined by hypocrisy and lack of funding; but also because I know I am not the only one going through this and not everyone that needs the help and support will be as lucky as I am to be able to leave."
Ms Beal called on the chief constable to make the situation better for her colleagues, saying she wanted "so much for their lives to get better".
"It is your responsibility to make this right; the front line needs more officers, leadership and managerial support," she said.
The Facebook post has been shared nearly 200 times and has over 300 comments, a number of them from other former officers who said they left for similar reasons.
Mr Colwell thanked Ms Beal for her "loyal service" and said the force did hear concerns from officers and staff and recognised where they were feeling the strain and acknowledged such issues had an impact on staff wellbeing.
He said staff wellness was a priority and there were a number of initiatives in place to help, such as a peer support network, a counselling service and the Blue Light programme developed by mental health charity Mind, aimed at emergency services staff.
"Last month the Chief Constable announced that, through additional budget provided by the Police and Crime Commissioner, we will be employing nearly 100 additional police officers onto the streets and into local policing, as well as 50 criminal investigators and 30 online record takers," he added.
"The extra 100 police officers will bring the total number back up to 3,000 and should help to relieve the pressure."