Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary has apologised after claiming response officers do not take trauma home with them at the end of a shift.
Sir Tom Winsor: 'Yesterday, on Sky
News I made a mistake, for which I
Sir Tom Winsor said he “made a mistake”, and his comments were “plainly wrong”.
In an interview with Sky News on Thursday (April 20), Sir Tom said: “One of the problems is that detectives are not paid any more even though they have higher levels of specialist skill.
“And the second thing is that detective work is much more stressful in many respects than being a response officer or a neighbourhood policing officer. If you’re dealing with 999 calls, in the main, at the end of your shift, you take nothing home.
“Detectives do take the problems home, they take the problems of the investigation, and of course the risk that they carry if they make a mistake or miss something – that’s something they take home too.”
As a result, many took to Twitter in disbelief of his comments that the harrowing events officers witness on a shift do not affect them, using the hashtag ‘#ITookHome’.
Foxtrot_Cop said: “I laid in a ditch with a motorcyclist on a summer evening & told him he'd be ok as he took his last breaths. Still think of him. #ITookHome.”
Devon and Cornwall Police Community Support Officer Kirsty Down tweeted: “#ITookHome the memory of watching someone jump to their death from a bridge. #ITookHome the anger of not knowing why I couldn't help them.”
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman added: “#Itookhome MANY things from 30+ yrs in policing & never underestimate the personal impact on ALL officers, support staff & their families.”
In a statement released on Friday (April 21), Sir Tom apologised for his comments.
“I said that, in contrast to detectives, response officers “take nothing home” at the end of their shifts. That is plainly wrong, it is not what I meant, and I realise it has caused anger and offence. I am sorry about this,” he said.
Sir Tom said he was responding to questions about why forces are facing difficulties in persuading officers to become detectives, to which he responded by speaking about the “complex” risks which detectives carry in a caseload, including crimes of violence, abuse and sexual exploitation.
He added: “Response and neighbourhood policing are undoubtedly stressful. Police officers and staff who deal with the many dreadful things which people do to others, or which happen to them, most certainly do not leave them behind; they take them home, and in many cases they stay with them forever. This was illustrated by some of the harrowing examples on Twitter yesterday.
“I hope those who have criticised what I said yesterday will also look at what I said in the State of Policing report yesterday about the very considerable risks and stresses which police officers and staff face and carry every day, and the repeated tributes which I have paid to their bravery, professionalism, dedication and sheer hard work, none of which is in any doubt.
“The public owe a very great debt to police officers and staff for what they do, even though they do not fully appreciate the extent, frequency, severity and terrible nature of so much of it.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said the hashtag shows the challenges that front line officers face every day.
“Their commitment and achievements are appreciated by all chiefs,” it added.
“It's plainly wrong that response officers aren't affected by their work - important to talk about it & get support #ITookHome.”