Following the news that Ian Tomlinson’s family has won an apology from the Metropolitan police over his ‘unlawful killing’ in 2009, tells us a lot about the stress and strain facing our modern day police force.
PC Simon Harwood, while in riot gear, struck Ian Tomlinson on the leg with a baton before shoving him violently to the pavement, minutes before his fatal collapse, during the G20 protests.
Having learnt the Simon Harwood had a string of previous disciplinary hearings, makes you question what makes a man lash out with such anger.
As with millions of men and women across the country, anger strikes at any moment and against anyone in the firing line.
It’s a tough job.
The cost of Police stress to the taxpayer is incalculable. Having to save £40m by 2015, more and more job cuts are being announced, and police officers have never felt so under threat. The Metropolitan Police, the largest force in England and Wales, lost 27,437 working days to stress in 2012.
More shocking is that 8,000 police officers were receiving full salaries while working as little as one hour a day on ‘restrictive or recuperative duties’, due to stress, with a total wage bill of £248 million a year.
In Essex alone, police officers took 9,139 days off due to stress last year – a sharp rise on the 4,594 sick days recorded in 2010.
Cuts to front-line police officers in Nottinghamshire have resulted in more officers taking time off work with stress, up to 3,806 days lost in 2012, compared to 2,023 in 2008.
Stress in the police force is something we all suffer from.
Police officers suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as much as the Army, Ambulance, doctors and nursing staff. Responding to traumatic events, such as fatal road traffic accidents, murder scenes and domestic abuse, significantly increases the chances of chronic stress in their lives.
Police & relationships.
With the high levels of stress, come high levels of divorce. The police divorce rates are more than double of the national average, taking into account the shifts police officers work and the dangers they face.
Mike Fisher from the British Association of Anger Management teaches us that stress is the cause of anger. Lashing out at a passerby is never condoned but is predictable given the statistics of domestic abuse in the UK alone, affects 1 in 4 women.
Combating Stress in the Police force.
Police chiefs understand the demands on the police service are enormous. They are getting better at identifying what is stressful to its officers and trying to stop these things becoming problems, by addressing their roots causes.
The British Association of Anger Management (BAAM) courses.
Mike Fisher, founder of BAAM has helped over 16,000 people since 1996, by teaching them the tools to control anger and lower stress levels. Police chiefs across the country would be wise to pay attention and police officers would be wise to sign up to Mike’s courses under their own innovative.
The more we understand about stress and anger the more we can protect ourselves and the general public from its unhealthy and often fatal, consequences.