University of Portsmouth research finds police are at risk of psychological harm

RESEARCHERS say police investigating violent and sexual crimes against children are at serious risk of psychological harm.

Sunday, 13th December 2020, 9:55 am
Updated Sunday, 13th December 2020, 9:59 am
Police in Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (310519-1)

Academic at the University of Portsmouth and Solent University interviewed police officers from two constabularies during a year-long study.

They also explored moral injury amongst the investigators when dealing with cases about online child sex crime and violence against young people.

Portsmouth’s Professor Peter Lee, director of security, risk research and innovation, said: ‘We found that law enforcement professionals who investigate child exploitation can be continually exposed to traumatising visual images in their jobs for years on end.

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‘This makes them particularly vulnerable to moral injury, PTSD, anxiety, depression and secondary trauma.’

The Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats funded the project that asked questions relating to motivations for beginning the role, any personality changes, prior trauma, difficulties relating to their current role, coping mechanisms, moral decision making and use of professional support.