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Article
Publication date: 24 November 2020

Jonathan Houdmont, Liza Jachens, Raymond Randall and Jim Colwell

Job stressor exposure is associated with mental health in police officers. Police stress research rarely draws a distinction between urban and rural policing, raising the…

Abstract

Purpose

Job stressor exposure is associated with mental health in police officers. Police stress research rarely draws a distinction between urban and rural policing, raising the possibility that stressors specific to the rural context remain unidentified and their implications unknown. This may hinder actions to protect the mental health of those involved in policing rural communities.

Design/methodology/approach

Among rural policing teams in an English county police force this study used an exploratory sequential mixed method design to (1) identify and quantify exposure to rural policing stressors and (2) examine links between job stressor exposure and psychological distress.

Findings

Interviews (N = 34) identified three rural policing job stressor themes: (1) job demands, (2) isolation and (3) critical decisions. Survey data (N = 229) indicated significant differences in exposure by rank to demand and critical decision stressors, with police community support officers (PCSOs) reporting lower exposure than officers of constable and sergeant rank. Overall, 44% of respondents reported symptoms of psychological distress indicative of likely minor psychiatric disorder; higher levels of psychological distress were associated with higher stressor exposure across all three job stressor themes for PCSOs and constables and within the job demand theme for sergeants.

Originality/value

Findings point towards practical actions focussed on resource provision for officers and a research strategy to ameliorate the impact of stressors in English rural policing.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2013

Jonathan Houdmont

Stress research in the UK policing has largely neglected to account for variance in the type of psychosocial hazard officers are exposed to across policing roles…

Abstract

Purpose

Stress research in the UK policing has largely neglected to account for variance in the type of psychosocial hazard officers are exposed to across policing roles, highlighting the need for role‐specific research that is capable of informing similarly specific stress reduction interventions. This study aimed to develop and assess exposure to a taxonomy of psychosocial hazards specific to the UK police custody work, consider the burnout profile of custody officers, explore relations between psychosocial hazard exposure and burnout, and compare the exposures of burned out and non‐burned out custody officers.

Design/methodology/approach

Preliminary focus groups identified a series of psychosocial hazards specific to the custody officer role. A questionnaire administered to custody officers within a UK territorial police force assessed exposure to these psychosocial hazards and burnout.

Findings

Twenty‐six custody‐specific psychosocial hazards were identified, across nine themes. The proportion of custody officers who reported a high degree of burnout was above that found in normative data. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that exposures were positively related to emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation. Unrelated t‐tests showed that respondents who reported high burnout also reported significantly higher exposures across all nine psychosocial hazard themes than those with sub‐threshold burnout scores.

Originality/value

This is the first study to investigate the stress‐related working conditions of the UK custody officers. It provides a foundation for future large‐scale longitudinal studies concerned with validating the current findings and improving the health of officers engaged in this unique policing role.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 36 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2012

Jonathan Houdmont, Robert Kerr and Raymond Randall

There is a paucity of contemporary evidence on the organisational (as opposed to operational) psychosocial hazard (OPH) exposures of UK police officers. The purpose of…

Abstract

Purpose

There is a paucity of contemporary evidence on the organisational (as opposed to operational) psychosocial hazard (OPH) exposures of UK police officers. The purpose of this study is to report on OPH exposures measured via an instrument developed by the UK government – the management standards indicator tool – among police officers sampled from an entire UK force. The study seeks to provide reference values for UK police officers' OPH exposures, to consider these in relation to government exposure targets, and to examine the association between officers' OPH exposures and perceived work‐related stress.

Design/methodology/approach

Police officers (n=1,729) completed the management standards indicator tool which measures perceived exposure to seven psychosocial work environment dimensions: demands, control, managerial support, peer support, relationships, role, and change. In addition, a single‐item measure of perceived work‐related stress was applied.

Findings

Sector‐specific reference values were generated by job role and rank on each of the seven dimensions assessed by the indicator tool. Scores on all seven dimensions were below government target levels (indicating that scores fell below the 80th percentile in relation to benchmark data). In total, 46 per cent of police officers reported their work to be very or extremely stressful. A significant positive correlation (p <0.01) was found between scores on each of the seven psychosocial work characteristics and perceived work‐related stress.

Originality/value

This study is the first to report on the assessment of UK police officers' OPH exposure using the management standards indicator tool. It provides reference values that UK forces will find useful for benchmarking and intervention‐targeting purposes, and against which progress in reducing OPH exposures can be assessed.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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