State of Policing – The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2016.

Published by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary 

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Overview (Excerpt)

The inspections that HMIC has carried out during the reporting period reveal two principal themes. The first is that the vast majority of frontline police offcers and staff continue to do a very diffcult job well, under demanding and often harsh circumstances. The second is that, while there are examples of excellence, police leaders need to focus on what matters most, plan properly for the future, ensure that their offcers and staff are properly trained, supported and equipped, and improve the pace of change significantly.  

Excerpts from the report about mental health

"The police service is not the only public service charged with meeting the needs of vulnerable people, but it is being used increasingly as the service of first resort. This is particularly true in respect of people suffering from mental ill-health. Until mental health is given the same priority as physical health, in resources including funding, the police will continue to play too large a role in dealing with people with mental health problems. By the time the police become involved, many opportunities to intervene – to prevent mental ill-health deteriorating to the point at which people are in danger – will already have been missed. This is ineffective and expensive. In a well-ordered and compassionate society, we should not rely on law enforcement officers to support people who need medical care.

"The severe problems in mental health provision in this country are not only failing those who need treatment; they also create an unacceptable strain on the police, and imperil public safety. It is, on the whole, frontline officers who feel this strain most acutely. Their jobs require them to deal with difficult, uncertain and often dangerous situations as a matter of routine.

"Every day and every night, police officers do things that most of us go out of our way to avoid. They do this professionally, conscientiously, compassionately and without complaint, and they deserve our grateful thanks. It is not only the safety of private citizens arising from their ill health or the ill health of others which is a matter of material concern to the police. The job that frontline officers do takes its toll on their own physical and mental health. Increasingly, police leaders understand the importance of workforce well-being and are taking steps to improve it. However, the level of support that forces provide for their officers and staff varies considerably, as does the capability of supervisors to identify and meet the needs of individuals. I do not believe that the general public fully realises the risks which police officers and staff take, or the sometimes severe adverse effects which the strain of policing can have on them, both mentally and physically."

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