Meditation lessons not the answer to brutal police cuts, says Unite

The roll out across the country of meditation lessons to reduce stress for police staff  does not address the nine years of budget cuts that are the root cause of the issue, Unite has said.

The union, which represents crime scene investigators, police dispatchers and other frontline support roles, said a 25% reduction in police staff numbers since 2010 has led to an “explosion of stress-related sick leave” that is “impacting on the effectiveness of forces as a whole”.

Responding to an article in the Guardian about the results of a trial on mindfulness techniques amongst 600 police officers and staff, Unite said that while meditation lessons may help some staff to deal with the pressure they are under, the only way to resolve the issue is an increase in funding to reverse the decline in police staff numbers.

Unite officer with national responsibilities for police staff Caren Evans said: “Any initiative to improve the wellbeing of police staff, many of who perform stressful and often harrowing tasks, is to be welcomed.

“However no amount of meditation will address the root cause of the massive amounts of stress police staff are under. Over the last nine years, police staff, who are the foundations on which forces depend, have been reduced by 25 per cent because of Tory cuts.

“The meditation courses may have been beneficial in the smaller and more rural forces where they were trialled, but they might not be as effective in larger metropolitan areas where staff are much busier and dealing with high impact crimes on a regular basis.

“Call handlers, police dispatchers and other vital personnel are running on skeleton staffs. Shortages are so acute that many have no time to take meal breaks while on shift or even take annual leave.

“This has led to an explosion in stress-related sick leave and is impacting on the effectiveness of forces as a whole.

“Ultimately, nearly a decade of cuts to police staff will not be undone by 15 minutes of sitting quietly in a room.

“The government must bring police staff numbers back to health, otherwise the situation will continue to get worse and police officers – including the 20,000 new officers ministers are planning to recruit – will not receive the support needed to do their jobs properly.”

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