Police Stress in the Emergency Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force
Scope and focus of the study 5 1. Research objectives 8 1. The study significance 8 2. Literature review 10 2. Psychological and physiological approaches 10 2. Issues for occupational safety and health 30 5. Time issues 33 5. Job issues 33 5. Organizational stress 34 5. Police stress due to gender differences 35 6. Internationally there has been documentation of stress in policing. For instance, ILO list jobs that have a rate of 6 or exceeds six on the scale of stress rating. Miners are ranked first with a stress level that goes up to 8. and police are second placed with a stress level that gets to 7. Policing and stress have led to social concerns. Stevens also argues that the police organization in most scenarios criticize the police officer for his or her state of stress and this leads to reduced chances of promotion for the police officer.
Making stress to look like an issue in the police force, it becomes a vested interests vehicle or the staff organizations and senior police officers to have their bargaining powers for resources to be increased. On the other hand, there are non-profit organizations that have shared their concerns and gone ahead to create special units that are dedicated to giving assistance and support. For example, CFPSU (Central Florida Police Stress Unit) is a not profit making organization that give this kind of assistance and support to the police. This organization is not associated with any department of police or agency of law enforcement, but it was formed to give support to police officers attached to the EU and their families. Women policing development For quite a long time now it is men have been dominant in the work of the police.
There have been many barriers to women getting into the police force. In most cases police departments if they had to hire women they hired few women and those hired could be taken to the youth-aid division. In the Hong Kong police force, most police officers are task oriented. Tasks like investigation and crime fighting are viewed as the real work of police, duties of patrolling are secondary, and a task like service culture is just seen as a weak very weak task. In the year 1994, there was another breakthrough for women recruits as it was made compulsory for them to be armed for the first time in history. There was an option for other female police officers who were serving since they did not require firearms to do the service.
In the year 1996, there was another breakthrough as the police commissioner chose to come with a new service culture to meet the high demands and needs of the public. In 1995, Service Quality Wing was established, and by the end of 1996 publishing of common values and purpose statement and police, the vision was done. Since then there have been many human factors getting corporate into the day to day practice and training of police. Some sources also indicate other common sources of police stress come from the procedures and policies that are found within the agencies of law enforcement. Support is supposed, to begin with the top people in the management and trickle down to the lower ranks. Police officers need to be made feel comfortable when looking for assistance, and it should not be seen as a sign of weakness.
Police officers feel open and comfortable when expressing their emotions and feelings within an environment that is safe. Stress for police officers can be reduced by proper education on ethics and stress, start at the academy and going on through the career of the police officer and making professional counseling and confidential peer support available. This research will give police stress findings using the context of Hong Kong. The study will also give an opportunity of comparing police stress incidents with countries that are developed. The policing experience in Hong Kong will also give important reflections and examples to Mainland China since Hong Kong is one of the special regions of administration in China. Stress that the police officers in the city of Hong Kong encounter can be regarded to be the same as the one that police officers in other regions like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen face.
The findings of the study will help in the facilitation of management within the Hong Kong police force. Based on other studies, there are differences in the way men and women police officers respond to stress. In this study there are two arguments; first is that male officers seem to experience stronger stress in comparison with women towards both organizational and operational factors; second, female officers who are married with children seem to have greater stress. These arguments will be supported by findings in this study. Literature review 2. Psychological and physiological approaches There have been many ways of conceptualizing stress. Stressors that are psychological get to be stressors by an event's cognitive interpretation. People are not disturbed by events, but they are disturbed by their views on the events.
Fontana, 1989), defined stress as a demand of the body upon the body and mind’s adaptive capacities. He introduced the mind's psychological aspect on top of the physiological reaction of the body. He further described that in case such capacities could handle that enjoys and demand the involved stimulation, and then stress becomes helpful and welcomed. Behavioral: problems with resting, withdrawal, acts that are anti-social, pacing, suspicion, substance abuse, emotional outburst, and change in activity. The Central Florida Police Unit Incorporation came up with listed common stress symptoms and signs using two sources: daily experience in stressed police officers counseling and reviewing related studies. The listed signs and symptoms serve as a useful checklist for early identification of stressed police officers to make intervention efforts, and it is of great importance for coming up with ideas that come from the research on Police stress in the context Hong Kong context.
Common police stress sources Finn (1997), classifies stress sources for individual police officers into five categories: i) police officer's personal life issues, ii) the police work's pressures, iii) attitude of general public towards the work of police officers, iv) the system of criminal justice's operation, and v) the organization of the law enforcement itself. Many people look at the tension and danger of the police work to be the most serious police officer's source of stress just like the way it is dramatized or shown in television shows, movies, and books. Organizational and operational perspectives Some agencies for enforcement and their working officers do see stress in policing as an issue that is individual and also weakness sign for the stressed police officer.
There are other leading enforcement agencies that are willing to invest resources in trying to find out the sources of stress both on the organizational and operational perspectives. Thompson and McCreary, 2006), came up with a questionnaire that can examine the stress of police from both the organizational and operational perspectives. The two developed two valid and reliable stressors in policing measures. One was the questionnaire for organizational police stress and the second was the questionnaire for operational police stress. Traumatic incidences are regarded as scenarios that the people who serve the emergency face that makes them get extreme emotional responses and they contain the capability to cause interference to their functioning ability at later or at the scene of the incident.
Patterson, 2000), sets the time range that a traumatic incident can affect the emergency personnel that experienced it. He gives a time range of within the past six months since the occurrence of the incident. Thompson and (McCreary, 2006), used Patterson's time range to have a coverage of related incidents. This realization of the potential that is likely to affect the ability of the officer not only at the scene of the incident but also later is a significant factor that will influence the Hong Kong police study. It includes roles of family and work association, a new women stress paradigm in the third millennium, and also recent results from neural and biochemical surveys in present times. Differences in gender that have family roles and work association The numbers of women who are in the labor force have tremendously increased over the past half-century.
This subsection gives a literature review on gender differences that have family roles and work association. According to (Orioli and Trocki, 1994), in the year 1950, the number of married women who were in the labor force were less than a quarter. In the year 1990, married women who were working were above 58% and out of that 75 % worked on a full-time basis. Research on stress due to occupation has emphasized more on men and therefore, there exist many biases and gaps. Orioli and Trocki, 1994), noted the question of whether women suffered the same rate of occupation stress like their male counterparts is yet to be answered. The two were among the earliest researchers to study gender stress, and they noted that non-existence of a pattern that is consistent is not a good proof that there exist no gender differences.
Evidence shows the reasons to be much systematic on the conducted topic with populations that are comparable and measures that are also comparable. In this research on policing stress within the EU of Hong Kong police force, the issue with populations that are comparable between female and male police officers is the same due to the difference in identified different genders’ strength. They were employed and were also attending college. Her research showed that roles according to gender were greatly related to the use of coping that is control-related. In most situations, it was a greater salient factor when compared to gender biologically. Giankos, 2000), says that identity of gender-role needs to be included as the critical value rather than focusing on gender that is biological or one which is physically determined.
The above view is concluded by the survey on the manner in which gender roles that are socially defined influence the experience of an individual on stress and also health at the place of work. Azar, 2000) said that the observations made by (Taylor, 2000) noting that the model of "tend-and-friend" will not just be replacement of "Fight-or-flight" but it will be an additional dimension the arsenal of a stress response. Taylor says that model closes the gap in the literature of stress response. Most studies have had their scope mainly on many and used fight-or-flight as their greatest stress response on the basis of a sample that is skewed. For instance, (Nesbitt, 2001), in the survey on “coping and stress among dental educators- does gender matter?” confirmed the findings of Taylor heading to the model of “tend-and-befriend” identification: that ladies or women in most cases tend to rely on various systems of support than men, such as support of a friend, housekeeper, or relative.
This new paradigm related development continues within the discipline of psychobiology. She also notes that there exist several political and social factors are involved, in addition to social justice, poverty, home responsibilities, the burden of childcare, and performing duties away from the family. She indicates that these pool of knowledge need to be integrated. She further says that study on the stress neurobiology has emphasized on prisoners of war, police, combat soldiers, and firefighters’ experiences. The trauma of women is always around relationships between people. She notes that the study has progressed into identifying that it is beneficial, to begin with, such encounters and determine their entire impact on women’s’ mental and physical health. The third phase which is the focus group discussion gives the reason why it is important to come up with a stress management system that will try to solve the issues that are related to stress.
The results and conclusion of research that is analytical and empirical are realized from facts, and they can be later used for further improvements. Without proper observations and interviews, there will be no greater understanding of the feelings and experiences of the police officers who are attached to the Emergency Unit in the Hong Kong police. The mixed-method approach is required to finding out social complexities that include gender differences that are found in responses to stress. Data collection based on quantitative approach There are five Emergency Units that are found in the Hong Kong Police. Each interviewed was done as per the schedule that was set. The officers who participated in the interviews were very supportive and frank in giving their experience and views, and this led to information that was very valuable to the study.
Using data from the interviews, a deeper understanding of the experience stress by police officers on their daily routines can be developed. Focus group discussion A focus group was also conducted within the Emergency Unit in the Island region of Hong. The focus group had two constables and two sergeants with a male and female in each. The organizational structure, cultural contexts, and historical context make the proportion of female and male officers to differ greatly. In total there were 111 female police officers in the EU department comparing to male officers who were over a thousand. The sample size for male police officers attached to the EU department of the Hong Kong was 30 and female police officers' sample size was only 10.
This survey could be used as a road map for next consideration of carrying out subsequent research in the future. The great differences in the sample sizes between female and male police officers will limit the reliability of next statistical analysis and on differences in gender. There were little discrepancies in the use of this tool of cross-cultural survey and the findings of the survey in the context of Hong Kong contribute to a comparative reference internationally. To do away with the limitation effect of the tool of a cross-cultural survey, interviews were carried out to facilitate an analysis that is more fine-grained. Interviewees were given a chance to come up with their items on top of the items that were in the two questionnaires since there might have been crucial issues that were not included in the two questionnaires.
Interviewees' arrangement: the commanding officer arranged for officers who were to be interviewed individually and also for the focus group discussion. This might be seen to some people that the kind of arrangement may influence the reliability of the interviews because of the norm that in a Force it is only those officers who are reliable and good will be chosen to take part in the survey and this might exclude views that are different from officers who are outspoken. Sum 40 100% Table 1 shows a high rate of return of between 8 and 13 out of the maximum 15 police officers from every platoon. Table 2: sample by gender Gender Count Percentage Male 30 75% Female 10 25% Sum 40 100% Table 2 indicates that the representation of female in the sample used is 25% and this is the representation of women in the year 2006 in the police force of 12.
Selection of women to the Emergency Unit is different based on the identified strength difference in both genders. The sizes of the population of female and male police officers are therefore incomparable, and this is a limitation of this study. This problem of not comparing male and female forces can be solved if the research is taken forward to the future. to 28 14 35% 29 to 32 9 22. Over 33 10 25% sum 40 100% Table 4 indicates that the largest group that was studied is the police officers aged between 25 and 28. This age group is more than a third of the entire population that was studied. Over 90% of the police officers who surveyed were aged 24 years and above. This composition shows the need to have more mature police officers when dealing with incidents that are critical.
The police officers also need to be exposed more to working in the Emergency Unit. It will be interesting to investigate the existence of stress response and service years' correlation. Apart from finding out the sources of stress, stress levels, and stress coping ways, the study also has an objective of determining the need for educating police officers on strategies that they can use to address issues that are stress-related. With further consideration, it looks like there is good to reconsider the objective of determining the need for educating strategies to determine the need for coming up with programs of stress management. Such reconsideration will make the research even better provided that a number of the issues that are stress-related recommendations go past the bounds of what can be done by educating strategies.
This is high when compared to the one for Canadian police study, which was 3. on the scale. One reason to attribute to the difference will be because of the difference in nature of duties for those who participated in the interviews. In the context of Canada, those who participated in the interviews came from diversified roles. Participants just came from the EU of Hong Kong police only, and this had to produce greater levels of stress. Fatigue falls under the physical aspect. But about the results of this survey, fatigue can fall under the three aspects. Those who participated in the study agreed that the effects of fatigue, if not curbed early, would affect the performance quality and also the motivation of officers to serve and could eventually cause problems of sleep.
There exist interactions among behavioral, emotional, and physical aspects. Demographic information used in the survey showed that officers attached to the EU are energetic and young. Health issues The research found that rating of stress for health issues that are occupation-related, traumatic events, and risk of getting injured while at the job was 5. and 4. respectively. All the three factors had a high score that is above the midpoint 4 in the 7-point scale. Those who were interviewed indicated that they minded about the issues’ consequences. which is around the midpoint 4 in the 7-point scale. Most of the officers who were interviewed raised the concerns of not getting sufficient family and friends’ time, mainly because of their bound availability caused by the duty commitment and shift work, time needed to keep fit and have a proper rest, and also time needed to have continuous studies to maintain the power of competing.
Job issues In this section, there are two items to be discussed. The items are the feelings of the participants as if they are always working and negative public comments. The rating of stress for the participant's feeling like they are at work always was 4. Those who participated had a wish that the public should recognize a positive image of the police force. They talked about the levels in which police actions are criticized by the media and the public together a misunderstanding of the police procedure and practice by the general public. It was to others expectations that the Police Public Relation Bureau, Police Force Management, or any other commanders that are appropriate to come up with ways to rectify the negative public comments and teach the public to make them respect the police force.
The Police Force Management has already started to apply communication strategies that are distinctive these external and internal matters. The results of this study will give a focus that will be used as a further reflection to ensure that the image is continuously improved. It is realized that all those who participated in the research have been experiencing to a certain extent the bureaucratic system burden. It is seen that in the rank structure of police force starting from the police commissioner to the lowest rank of a constable; there are many chances of getting some supervisors or police leaders who use bureaucratic methods in an excessive manner to see their benefits are safeguarded or put more pressure on those who are below them.
It is officers from all the ranks who experience stress that is caused by bureaucracy in the police organization. Inconsistent leadership This is the third most stressful item, and it was found to have a mean of 5. and more than half of the employees highlighted it. As time goes by, there will be more research conducted on occupational stress from the perspective of a female. In this research, most of those who participated agreed with the view that gender differences occupational stresses do exist. It was very interesting that even the males who were interviewed agreed that female police officers experience greater stress levels. Some female interviewees went to the contrary by saying that it male officers who experience greater stress.
Adapting and coping with stress The review of (Lord, 2005) regarding women in the careers of policing concluded that female officers were more responsive and sensitive to needs of the society. Parsons, 2004) made a review of many research on occupational safety and health risks which officers encounter daily in America, Canada, and Europe, and realized several issues of health that are surrounding policing. In the year 2006, an article published in the Hong Kong Police bi-weekly magazine said that it is the obligation of the management to forecast what occupational health and safety risks it faces and to take an action of preventing results that are undesirable. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the individual police officer to follow the standards and procedures applicable to suppress the occurrence or reduce the effects of such risks (Pac-Soo, 2012).
Given the fact that the Hong Kong Police Force itself is aware of the occupational health and safety implications of stress, it will be better to find a way in which the responsibilities will be carried out effectively. All the officers who were interviewed in this study agreed that occupational stress in the EU department was both an organizational and individual issue. In the year 2005, after the World Trade Organization's 6th conference of ministers was completed, the Hong Kong Police Force’ Psychological Services Group took a survey with officers who were in the frontline to determine their cause of stress during that time. Mark, 2008), presented subsequent briefings to the officers who were in the rank of commissioners on “learning from the Hong Kong Conference of Ministers- Stressors, Adjustment, and Morale Psychological Perspective.
” He identified 12 stressors and said that stressors and stress management should be acknowledged. This came to be part of the learning process for both serving police officers and police organizational structure, and there was a reflection of the psychological perspective that there was a need to have stress management development that is continuous. Further Research Implications Results implications from this research give support to the argument that there is a need for more organizational efforts to deal with issues that are stress-related and also the need to have stress management development that is continuous and also related training. Can, S. H. and Hendy, H. M. Police stressors, negative outcomes associated with them and coping mechanisms that may reduce these associations. News Information Censorship and Changing Gatekeeping Roles: Non-Routine News Coverage and News Routines in the Context of Police Digital Communications in Hong Kong.
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