UK

We want to be sleeping policemen! Officers should be allowed to sleep on the job says union chief

Police Officers could boost their productivity if allowed to take naps while on night shifts, a union chief has claimed. 

Sergeant Zoë Wakefield, Chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation

Sergeant Zoë Wakefield, Chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation, said while allowing officers to sleep on duty would be a ‘brave’ step, it could also reduce tiredness among members of the force, improve overall wellbeing and boost performance. 

Sgt Wakefield, who has spent 21 years working 24-hour shift patterns, told The Telegraph: ‘You have this constant fatigue and you feel tired all the time. It affects cognitive function. The long-term health effects are well-documented. 

‘You feel like you’re never quite with it. Even on your rest days, you just feel like you’re never sufficiently recovered to keep your concentration levels going. 

‘And you never really sleep well. A lot of people are only getting an average of four or five hours’ sleep, even when they are not working.

‘Knowing that this has such an effect on wellbeing and performance, should we be allowing officers to have rests on night shifts?

‘I think it would be a very brave chief constable that goes down that route. It would need a lot of money, time and resources. But the evidence shows that it could work.’ 

Concerns about officers sleep patterns and there ability to do their jobs effectively have previously been raised. 

‘You feel like you’re never quite with it. Even on your rest days, you just feel like you’re never sufficiently recovered to keep your concentration levels going. 

Footage emerged in 2019 of a police officers apparently asleep behind the wheel near Skye Bridge in Scotland

Footage emerged in 2019 of a police officers apparently asleep behind the wheel near Skye Bridge in Scotland

‘And you never really sleep well. A lot of people are only getting an average of four or five hours’ sleep, even when they are not working.

‘Knowing that this has such an effect on wellbeing and performance, should we be allowing officers to have rests on night shifts?

‘I think it would be a very brave chief constable that goes down that route. It would need a lot of money, time and resources. But the evidence shows that it could work.’ 

Concerns about officers sleep patterns and there ability to do their jobs effectively have previously been raised. 

In 2015, a study published by Third Pillar of Health found ‘widespread tiredness, fatigue and stress’ across six police forces in England.      

Marcus de Guingand, the managing director of Third Pillar of Health, said: ‘If nothing is done to address these issues the public can expect to see more officers off sick, more accidents and an increase in complaints against police officers.’ 

Police officers shifts can vary. As the force provide a 24 hour service, officers can expect to work early, late and night shifts, as well as working on weekends and Bank Holidays. 

The majority of forces follow a rostered pattern, meaning that officers will get a certain amount of days off following shifts. 

Having a good sleeping pattern is as important as diet and exercise when it comes to being healthy, helping to improve mood, brain function and overall physical health. 

Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night or more. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, poor sleep can lead to problems including obesity, heart problems, issues with insulin management, overall performance, memory processing, mood and safety.  

In 2019, footage of a uniformed police officer asleep behind the wheel of a patrol car with the engine running emerged.

The clip shows the officer slumped in the driver’s seat having a rest while parked near the Skye Bridge, in the Scottish Highlands. 


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