EXCLUSIVE: Cops smashed on booze and drugs with some blaming it on 'stress of the job'
POLICE union chiefs want to "dig deep" into why so many officers appear to be turning to alcohol and illegal drugs to deal with the "stress of the job". The Police Federation is set to investigate what has led to a perceived rise in officers with addiction problems and what measures forces have in place to deal with those suffering acute stress. It comes after a series of police misconduct cases heard details of officers hitting the bottle or using illegal recreational drugs, with several claiming stresses of being overworked, assaulted and witnessing harrowing events led to their substance abuse. The Met Police has heard a number of the cases, including a police sergeant who passed out drunk at his desk and an officer who was visibly drunk on duty, that a member of the public reported him. In another case an officer was arrested for drink driving after he set off to take his own life before being arrested by officers from Thames Valley Police and others were found to have been using cannabis and cocaine. Most of the officers involved were sacked for gross misconduct. A misconduct case this month heard that former armed PC Matthew Thomas, who served on the Met's Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection service, would have been sacked had he not resigned after he tested positive for cocaine while at work. It was argued during the hearing he had "strains and personal difficulties" that had not been addressed by the force. Paul Williams, the federation's wellbeing lead, said generally, more needs to be understood about what is driving officers to use drinks and drugs to "escape." He said: "It is certainly something that is well on our radar and we need to dig deep into this. "We cannot rule out people trying it on as mitigation, but we need to explore the underlying causes." Officers being off sick with mental health issues and incidences of post traumatic stress disorder are at record levels and the number of officer suicides is also rising. Mr Williams said officers were routinely subject to "massive mental trauma dealing with deaths, serious incidents, abuse, toxic social issues and being assaulted." He said: "Naturally it can lead them to having a weakness to escaping by using drugs or drink so that mitigation is a real potential. "We can explore this through confidential surveys, by reaching out and speaking to cops personally, with their consent as these matters are very private. "We will start at the top with what we have - what we see as an increase in addiction and the misconduct surrounding addiction - and dig our way down by talking to those individuals themselves and by approaching forces through Freedom of Information Act requests and ask them to tell us what processes they have in place to deal with such issues as that is what we are trying to influence."