Police chiefs in Hertfordshire are to be asked to provide information on the welfare of their officers, following a meeting of the county’s police and crime panel.
On a day-to-day basis police officers can be called out to deal with the most traumatic incidents.
And research has suggested that as many as one in five serving police officers nationwide are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
On Tuesday Cllr Sam North – a former police officer – highlighted that research at a meeting of the police and crime panel.
And he called for regular updates on police welfare to be made available to the panel – including information on morale, grievance and misconduct, as well as overtime and resilience.
The police and crime panel already scrutinises annual reports on custody visiting, the use of ‘stop and search’ and the welfare of the police dog unit.
And Cllr North expressed concern that there was not a similar report on the welfare of police officers.
“It has for quite a long time confused me why dog welfare comes to this committee and is scrutinised extensively, but not the welfare of the officers and staff that make up Hertfordshire Constabulary,” he said.
Later he stressed that the welfare of the dogs – who he said were put in to service to prevent crime and harm to others – was important.
But he said it was important also for the welfare of police officers and staff to be scrutinised.
And he suggested that the information could be supplied by either the Hertfordshire Constabulary or the Police Federation, which represents officers – or both.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service of the ‘harrowing issues’ officers are routinely called out to deal with.
He suggested that the welfare report would “put people in the shoes of police officers so they understand what they are going through”.
And he said: “If David Lloyd is willing to raise council tax some should go to police officer welfare – and there should be a reporting mechanism to make sure we are holding police forces to account in how they manage and deal with their welfare.”
At the meeting it was stressed that the role of the police and crime panel was to review reports of the police and crime commissioner – rather than operational police matters.
However panel chair Cllr Siobhan Monaghan said that she would request whether a document – as suggested by Cllr North – could be prepared for them.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd recognised that the issue of police welfare was important.
But as the remit of the panel is to hold the commissioner to account – and not the chief constable – he suggested the request would “push at the edges of what the panel is about”.
And he suggested that the constabulary may not be able to issue the report.
Alternatively, Mr Lloyd suggested that the issue could be included in his upcoming ‘police and crime plan’.
And then, he said, the panel could hold him to account on the issue, rather than seeking the information from the constabulary directly.
The police and crime panel is made up of representatives from each of the 11 councils in Hertfordshire and two independent members.
The panel’s next meeting – which is open to the public – will be held on March 17, at the offices of Broxbourne Borough Council.