Major study reveals ‘burnout’ of Scottish police officers

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The research involving more than 2,000 Police Scotland officers has found around half experiencing moderate to high levels of burnout at work.

The findings will be published on Tuesday, June 01 in Scotland’s new justice and current affairs magazine, 1919.

Police Scotland is “under-resourced“, according to experts, and it would struggle to “fulfil its role in society” if officers stopped turning up for work when they were due time off.

Police - Scottish News
Photo by Alex Young on Unsplash. The major study has revealed a growing mental health crisis within policing in Scotland.

The ‘2020 Welfare and Wellbeing in Times of Covid Survey’ was commissioned by the Scottish Police Federation and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents.

It found 29% of officers were experiencing moderate burnout, with 16% enduring high levels.

A third of officers went to work when they were mentally unwell, the findings stated, and a similar number reported being in poor physical health.

Police - Scottish News (1)
Photo by Ethan Wilkinson on Unsplash. 1919 Magazine is a new publication being launched this week, which contains interviews and opinion pieces from senior figures in the world of justice and politics.

The report, by academics Sean Campeau, Linda Duxbury and Neil Cruickshank from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, said: “The data from this study along with previous survey work we have done with Police Scotland leads us to conclude that many frontline officers at Police Scotland are suffering from chronic stress associated with their circumstances at work.

“This is worrisome given research showing the pandemic is likely to exacerbate issues associated with chronic stress rather than alleviate them.

“Officers who are suffering from chronic stress would benefit from time away from work.

“Unfortunately, the data from this study suggests that the culture within Police Scotland and the officers’ own work ethic means this is unlikely to happen as officers who are experiencing higher levels of stress or burnout within Police Scotland are either not encouraged and/or unable to take time off work to recover from the demands they face on the job.

“These data support the following conclusions: Police Scotland is under-resourced and has an organisational culture that acts as a barrier to workplace efficiency.

“Police Scotland would find it difficult to fulfil their mandate if officers did not come into work when they are supposed to have time off.

“And many front-facing Police Scotland officers are either overworked or at a high risk of experiencing overwork in the very near future.”