‘I felt a bit like a victim of domestic abuse’: Ex-police officer Diana Stroh claims she experienced bullying in the workplace and wants to help others
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A former Suffolk police officer who claims that bullying in the workplace resulted in her quitting the force has said she wants to use her experience to raise awareness of the issue.
Diana Stroh, 51, from Bramford, resigned from Suffolk Constabulary on June 2 2014 – 22 years to the day after she joined.
The former officer alleged that being bullied at work over a number of years, which included inappropriate comments, being given unmanageable workloads and put-downs, led to her suffering from severe depression.
Ms Stroh said: 'I think for quite some time I felt a bit like a victim of domestic abuse because I couldn't see it. I thought, how had I become such an awful officer?
'I was constantly on edge because I didn't know where the next criticism was coming from.'
She said she felt there was a culture of fear and that if anyone raised a concern it 'would be thought they cannot do their job', and on one occasion claimed she was told she was 'over-reacting' after raising a concern.
'I wondered if I was being set up to fail. I didn't feel like I could refuse any of the work because I wasn't being supported,' she said.
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Ms Stroh, who now works as a parish clerk and runs her own business designing children's rooms, has said she feels that more training was needed to help supervisors and managers support their officers to the best of their ability. She has also called for more to be done to ease the strain of pressured working environments.
Since leaving in 2014, Ms Stroh set up a blog of her experiences called Bullies in Blue. She has also recently begun work with Whistleblowers UK which helps employees raise concerns in their workplace without fear of fallout.
Following a misconduct hearing for an officer earlier this month in which the panel raised concerns over an 'unhealthy and unacceptable culture' in one of the force's departments, Ms Stroh said she wants to raise awareness.
She said: 'I would like to use my experience to go and talk to organisations that deal with victims of crime and business groups about workplace bullying.
'It's sad because it makes the work all the more difficult. I felt I couldn't do my best for my victims [I was supporting].
'It took me six months from leaving to feel normal again.
'I couldn't work, and it took me six months to get it out of my system to feel better. That's when I set up my blog.'
Suffolk Constabulary's response
A spokesman from Suffolk police said: 'The Constabulary does not comment on individual personnel matters.
'The welfare of our staff and officers is extremely important to us and there are a range of channels that they can use to speak out and address any concerns they may have about their workplace.
'We have recently conducted an employee engagement survey which encourages staff to reflect on their experiences in the work place, we also have fairness at work procedures and an anonymous hotline that can be used to report concerns staff or officers may have.
'In addition, our occupational health team can work with individuals to provide support and advice, we have an 'Ask the Chief' process where issues can be raised direct with the chief constable as well as trade union and staff association representation through Unison, the Police Federation and staff support networks.
'Any allegations of bullying within the organisation are taken extremely seriously and would be subject of an internal investigation involving senior management, human resources and where necessary, Professional Standards.
'The constabulary promotes the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism at all times, as outlined in the national Code of Ethics.
'The Code of Ethics sets out the principles that all members of the police service, both officers and staff, are expected to uphold and the standards of behaviour they are expected to meet.'