A lot of stress in police work

MAINTAINING order on the front line at the Doubtful Creek anti-coal seam gas protest this week would be extremely emotionally and psychologically draining for local police, a psychologist said.

Southern Cross University lecturer Dr Jacqui Yoxall said scenes like those at Doubtful Creek yesterday would have had psychological effects on some officers.

Research showed police in regional areas such as the Northern Rivers were under more psychological stress than their city counterparts.

"One of the biggest things psychologically is when you live in a small community, you often work and live in that community so you develop relationships with members of that community," she said.

Police maintaining the safety of protesters at Doubtful Creek potentially would have had to move on people they have relationships with, putting them in a psychological conflict.

In social media discussion of the protest, many people attacked police for what they saw as heavy-handed tactics, while a minority showed support for the police.

Others said some of the police involved in the Doubtful Creek protests did not want to be there.

Dr Yoxall said maintaining order in their local community at protests added to what was already one of the most stressful occupations.

"With these types of protests the police are potentially caught between the state government decision, which they have no control over, the job that they do and their community."

"Psychological stress increases substantially when you have got two different beliefs or demands, or contradictory demands at the same time."

"Police often have that, they may not necessarily want to do something but they have to do something because it is their job."

The longer the protest, the more intense the psychological stress.

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