Impacts of Organisational, Role and Environmental Factors on Moral Injury amongst Police Investigators in Internet Child Abuse Teams

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Abstract

In the United Kingdom (UK), half of those police officers taking sickness leave in the last 5 years have done so because of mental health-related illness (Police Firearms Officer Association 2017). This situation is not confined to the UK. In the United States, more law enforcement officers have committed suicide than been killed in the line of duty in the last three consecutive years (Kamkar et al., 2019). Regular and repeated exposure to traumatic and critical events increase police officers’ susceptibility to mental health disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) depression and anxiety (Husain, 2014), and stress-induced diseases (Violanti et al., 2016a), with cases estimated to be at least four times higher than amongst the general population (Kates, 2008; Ombudsman Ontario, 2012). If left untreated, cumulative exposure to trauma leads to physiological stress-induced conditions which include; obesity, diabetes, higher rates of hypertension and raised cholesterol (Zimmerman, 2011), which combined, lead to rates of cardiovascular disease in police at 31.4% compared to 18.4% in the general population (Han, 2018). In addition, 40.4% of officers report a sleep disorder which effects their health, performance and safety (Garbarino, 2019). Viewed within the context of such individual mortality and morbidity, such mental and physical ill health adversely affects workplace performance, future career prospects (Heffren & Hausdorf 2016) and premature retirement (Collins and Gibbs 2003; Summerfield 2011), emphasising its importance as a focus for research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicing and Society
Publication statusSubmitted - 23 Sep 2020

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