For EuroCOP it is of utmost importance that police officers are provided with the appropriate working conditions (e.g. working hours, resources, equipment and training) to allow them to perform their duties effectively and safely.
In the EU, the working time and working conditions of employees are regulated by the Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC. The Directive provides for instance that Member States “shall take the measures necessary to ensure that every worker is entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period”.
The health and safety of workers is currently regulated at the EU level by the Safety and Health of Workers Directive- Council Directive 89/391/ EEC. This Directive provides that Member States “shall pay particular attention to encouraging improvements, especially in the working environment, as regards the health and safety of workers, and shall set as their objective the harmonisation of conditions in this area, while maintaining the improvements made”.
Although European institutions, including the European Court of Justice, have repeatedly confirmed that the Directives also apply to police officers, the 2015 EuroCOP members’ survey, which focused specifically on implementation of the Directives across Europe, highlights major discrepancies between Member States.
The very nature of policing and the varied duties performed by police forces to ensure public safety, means police officers are exposed to health and safety risks on a daily basis. EuroCOP therefore urges policymakers to ensure that the appropriate working conditions are in place to protect police officers and allow them to perform their duties. More specifically, it has made the following recommendations to policymakers:
- EuroCOP strongly encourages further discussion of sector specific legislative initiatives on the health and safety rights of police officers at the EU level. It is crucial that the appropriate working conditions are in place to reduce work-related illnesses as much as possible.
- Working conditions can be varied and imbalanced across the EU. Increasingly, police officers are not provided with the same health and safety rights as other European workers. EuroCOP believes that the main driver to redress this imbalance needs to be political will and the proper implementation of current EU health and safety legislation.
- EuroCOP stresses the need for the health and safety of police officers to be addressed at the political level to enable information-sharing and best practices on the prevention of violence against law enforcement officers and the reduction of their exposure to extreme situations, allowing them to perform their duties safely. The capabilities of European police forces depend to a large extent on the appropriate working conditions.
- EuroCOP calls on EU policymakers to recognize the particularities of police work and to ensure that police officers are provided with the appropriate working conditions (including equipment and training) to carry out their duties and to keep citizens and themselves safe and healthy.
- EuroCOP believes that it is of utmost importance for injured police officers have equal access to the necessary medical and psychological support across the EU Member States.