Research brief: police work and its health impacts


On 29 July 1987, Queensland police conducted a dawn raid on a Brisbane house in search of one of Australia's most wanted criminals. A shoot-out followed which left one police officer dead and another wounded. The wanted man was also killed.

This recent event is dramatic illustration of the grave dangers faced on occasions by members of the nation's various police forces. They are dangers which many police officers, and the public in general, believe are growing in our society. As such, substantial concern has been expressed about the impact of an increasingly hazardous work environment upon the health and safety of more than 35 000 police officers serving around the country.

The research results in this Trends and Issues on Crime and Criminal Justice contain some reassuring information. During the period 1977-87 the available evidence suggest that the general health and safety of police did not deteriorate. However, the findings also emphasise the need to continue the search for ways of minimising the occupational hazards of police work; a task which is already being tackled by Australian police administrators.