Archive for March 7th, 2009

March 7th, 2009

Hidden Dangers

Posted in The Job - General by 200

It may come as a surprise to some but just about the most dangerous thing about being a police officer – in terms of fatalities – is the journey to and from work.

In January this year three police officers were killed in the space of two days on their journey into or home from work in road traffic collisions. DC Diane Donald, 40, of Strathclyde police died following a crash on 21st of January. PC George Small, 29, of the Met was killed later the same day in Bromley. PC James Drew, 27, of Hampshire was killed the following day.

A Met Police Federation spokesman said, “It is ironic, as people just assume the most dangerous time is when officers are at work doing a very dangerous occupation. But these deaths are happening when officers should be safe.”

Some forces are working to reduce the potential for an officer to be involved in an RTC. West Midlands has introduced a scheme where they will supply a taxi home for an officer after night shift if they feel too tired to drive. Shift work can be a huge problem; many people find it difficult to sleep during the day & consequently start work very tired, this is increased after an 8 or 10 hour night shift & sometimes  a long journey home.

I used to work at a station 25 miles from home. A journey up a long, boring motorway can send you to sleep at the best of times, let alone when you’re dog tired after a long & exhausting shift. I lost count of the number of times I had arrived home with absolutely no recollection of the journey.

The figures since 2000 show that 50 of the 130 officers who have died on duty were killed in RTCs travelling to work or back home.

An accident whilst travelling to & from work has always been considered as an accident on duty for UK police. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case but it does affect claims & benefits available. The Home Office, in considering how best to support those involved in such horrors is currently considering whether officers who are on their way to or from work should be reclaissified as ‘off duty’. I guess this is for no other reason than it would reduce the amount of benefit payments made to their families when they are killed.

You can see details of officers killed at the Police Roll of Honour Trust.