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How many police officers have taken their own lives?


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This article has been submitted by the blogger Retired and Angry.

How many police officers have taken their own lives?


Date - 25th May 2019
By - Retired and Angry 
1 Comment1 Comment}


The answer to the headline us - we don’t know.

I initially found that staggering but then I began to think a little deeper.

Journalist Carl Eve of the Plymouth Herald has written what I believe to be a first class exposé of the chaos surrounding police officers who have taken their own lives.

If you want to know how many police officers have been arrested for murder or assault we can tell you.

If you want to know how many police officers have been murdered or assaulted we can tell you.

If you want to know how many police officers are off sick at any time we can tell you.

If you want to know how many of those are off sick with stress or PTSD we can probably tell you.

If you want to know how many police officers (or former police officers) have taken their own lives, sorry, we cannot tell you that, we do not record those stats.

I’m not convinced that I believe that. Police forces do like a good set of stats and a certain number of them have been known to issue the odd falsehood in response to an Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

In November 2017 Plymouth Live revealed of the police officers in Devon and Cornwall who had lost their lives since 2009, a quarter had taken their own lives.

The website made FOI requests of 49 police forces in the country, including British Transport Police, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Ministry of Defence Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Police Scotland, asking for details of the number of officers who died in service and the causes of death, such as traffic accidents, natural causes, terrorism or suicide. The process took around eight months to complete as a number of forces delayed their responses far beyond the statutory 20 working days agreed by the law.

Only 37 forces replied and 30 of those forces revealed that while they kept records for how many officers died while in service, none had any details of the causes of death or details regarding.

Those that have read my previous post will know that I once had to deal with the suicide of a friend and colleague. His occupation was not hidden from my report or the Coroner’s Inquest. Why would it not be recorded somewhere? It undoubtedly was but not necessarily in a retrievable format.

At least one other former friend and colleague also took his own life. I know why he did that and I’m not going to include it here, but be assured it was 100 per cent related to his job.

The demand on police officers has increased dramatically. In tandem, police numbers have been ruthlessly reduced by successive governments since 2010. Leave has been cancelled in alarming numbers and 12 hour shifts are currently the norm more often than not.

Officers are routinely single-crewed, on their own, no backup. Hundreds of thousands of  lieu hours have been racked up. Hundreds of thousands of rest days are waiting to be re-rostered. Annual leave has been denied affecting not only the officers but their families also. I can imagine that wives, husbands and partners are not overly impressed by that putting strain on personal relationships.

Even if forces suddenly start collecting such stats - on its own it means nothing. Effective and appropriate support needs to be provided in a timely fashion. A lot of that used to happen in canteens - but they have all been closed. Adjourn to a local cafe? Somebody will take a photo and sell the story to a newspaper somewhere - more stress. Go for a pint after work? Even if the pubs are still open when you get off, someone will make something of it.

Have the stats by all means but the infrastructure has to be there to protect the force’s most valuable asset - officers.

View On Police Oracle

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