Government budget cuts which have left police officers fighting crime alone have led to close to 80 percent feeling stress and anxiety, a new survey showed.
Austerity has seen the removal of 22,000 officers since 2010, leading to 76 percent of frontline police often or always working on their own, a study by the Police Federation, which represents officers, found.
Almost nine out of 10 officers surveyed said there were not enough staff to manage the demands they faced.
Some 79 percent said they have felt feelings of stress and anxiety in the last year, with 94 percent of those saying those feelings were caused, or made worse by, their job.
Around four in 10 said they believed their job was very, or extremely, stressful, an increase of a third, the Police Federation said, on similar statistics from 2016.
The Police Federation surveyed 18,000 officers between the rank of constable to chief inspector for a new report.
The organisation’s vice-chair, Ché Donald, said the “once revered British model of policing is currently on its knees and facing extinction” and that action was needed to save it.
“When officers work alone they are undoubtedly exposed to increased risk - for them and the public, not to mention the detrimental effect on their overall health and wellbeing,” Donald said.
“It’s quite simple – policing is dangerous in every sense, and whilst single-crewing may work for some forces and certain types of enquiries, it is not acceptable the majority of the time.
“Forces are having their hands forced as they struggle to meet the increased demands placed on them, but this false economy of single-crewing merely creates the illusion of public safety.
“Quite simply this is not sustainable and officers are suffering.”
In response to the survey, the policing minister, Nick Hurd, said: “The home secretary and I have been crystal clear that policing’s greatest asset is its people, and we are determined to ensure that forces have the support and resources they need to protect the public.
“Parliament has approved our funding package for next year, which will increase investment up to £970m, including money raised through council tax. This funding settlement recognises the demands on police forces, and police and crime commissioners are already setting out plans to recruit more officers as a result.
“We take the wellbeing of police officers and staff very seriously, which is why we launched the frontline review to listen to their concerns and have invested £7.5m in a new national police wellbeing service.”