High levels of fatigue among officers across the country have been revealed by the findings of the first police national wellbeing survey, which was filled in by around 35,000 people.

Carried out by Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, and the College of Policing, the survey showed that almost half (45 per cent) of the officers involved were getting less than six hours’ sleep a night.

Experts from around the world will now be consulted to carry out research with the two bodies in an attempt to find ways of reducing the growing issue of officer and staff fatigue.

The research will also include the views of practitioners and staff associations in the UK.

“As a Federation, we have always suspected that shift work tends to lead to officers enjoying less sleep and these findings add more weight to that,” says Liz Groom, the chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation.

“That is worrying because we are all aware policing is a role that demands clear and split-second decisions when dealing with issues on a daily basis. Fatigue is something that will clearly have a detrimental effect on anyone’s ability to perform those tasks.

“In addition, we have to be aware that long-term fatigue can have a big impact on officers’ mental health and physical wellbeing so it really is crucial that we find some answers. I am looking forward to seeing what the research suggests.” 

The wellbeing survey also found that police officers working in safeguarding and investigations reported lower levels of wellbeing, while police staff reported lower levels of wellbeing in areas such as custody, contact management and incident management.

Despite some worrying findings, there were, however, many positive and uplifting points from the survey:

  • 65 per cent of respondents reporting feeling satisfaction in their work
  • The majority of officers and staff reported they felt trusted in their roles and were able to act and make choices which reflected their own personal beliefs and values
  • Both police officers and staff reported feeling high levels of competence in their work, meaning they felt they could be effective, make important contributions and felt valued by their co-workers and supervisors.

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) wellbeing lead and service director for Oscar Kilo, said: “Looking at the results, we see some areas of progress, and other issues which strengthen our resolve to keep doing more.

“It’s clear that many people feel valued by their peers and supervisors - but less so by the organisation and the public – a gap we see in every survey that is directly linked to trust. Fatigue also leaps off the page, and this has a lot to do with our cultural acceptance in relation to things like disrupted sleep and all the risks it can bring to our health and operational decision-making.”

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, CEO of the College of Policing, said the survey would provide a baseline which Oscar Kilo would use to measure progress and help prioritise work nationally and within individual forces.


Read the full survey results on the Oscar Kilo website.