One in five police officers suffers from PTSD as one is assaulted every 20 minutes, new research shows

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One in five police officers claims to be suffering from PTSD due to “repeated abuse” and trauma, a Cambridge University survey has found.

New research taken from interviews with 17,000 police officers across the UK showed 20 per cent suffered from some form of PTSD, with 90 per cent of officers reportedly having been exposed to a traumatic incident. 

The research, led by Dr Jess Miller, a Neuropsychology Research Fellow at Cambridge University, showed 43 per cent of officers felt their sense of threat had been heightened because of exposure to traumatic incidents, including personal assaults.

Nearly a third said they would avoid situations, places and people that reminded them of previous incidents.

Dr Miller said: “If you put any person in a situation where they’re repeatedly abused, then cognitive function and wellbeing are going to suffer as a result. 

“The most stark finding was that one in five officers and staff have some form of PTSD with 90 per cent of officers reportedly having been exposed to a traumatic incident. 

“If you continually experience trauma again and again and again without resetting that stress response, that’s when the disorder kicks in.”

An investigation for Channel 4’s Dispatches that interviewed 1,000 police officers found that on average, officers called for urgent assistance 82 times a day, a rise of 10 per cent over the last year.

Nearly 80 per cent of respondents revealed they had been assaulted at least once over the last 12 months. 

In the same period almost a third of the officers said they had suffered an injury that required medical attention due to an on-duty assault and 90 per cent said physical attacks were now more frequent compared with previous years.

According to Home Office figures in 2017/18, there were over 26,000 recorded assaults on officers, a rise of 20 per cent over the last two years.  On average, a police officer is attacked every 20 minutes. 

Nick Hurd, the Policing Minister, said: “We need more officers.  That has been my priority, so this year, up and down the country, we’re recruiting over 3,000 more officers and staff and PCSO’s.”

Asked by Dispatches if Theresa May was wrong to have cut 20,000 police officers since 2010, Mr Hurd responded: “When circumstances change, Government’s got to change. 

“When I started… I recognised there was too much pressure on the system, which is too stretched, and ever since then I have been working to persuade my colleagues that we needed to get more resources into the police system.”



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