Police officer mental health absences up 22 per cent

Police officer mental health absences up 22 per cent

The number of days police officers have taken off due to mental health issues has risen by 22 per cent in the last five years, figures show.

Officers and staff missed 76,848 working days in 2021-22 because of “psychological disorders”, according to official statistics published in 1919 Magazine.

Scottish Police Federation chairman David Hamilton said officers are beginning to “fail” and struggle with their tasks as a result of “critical” stress levels.

Mr Hamilton said: “The problem is that the service’s response to wellbeing has been very reactive when what we need to do is stop problems happening in the first place.

“We are constantly putting plasters on to stop the bleeding when we need to prevent the bleeding in the first place.

“The challenge highlighted in our evidence and in the surveys that we and Police Scotland have carried out is that people are burning out because they are so busy with work – not least dealing with mental health calls – that they are not getting the chance to get away from it.”

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee last month, he said officers were under constant pressure.

He added: “They are getting to the critical stress level at which people burn out. That was all the data tells us: police officers are burning hot just now and beginning to fail.

“Whatever we do in response, we need to stop that sort of thing happening in the first place before it needs to be fixed.”

Deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor told 1919 Magazine: “Policing is a relentless but rewarding vocation which places significant demand on physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

“Our people are highly motivated by public service and they work tirelessly to improve the lives of people and communities in Scotland every day, against a backdrop of increasing demand.

“The safety and wellbeing of officers and staff – and their families – is a priority for Police Scotland and we have a range of mechanisms to support our people across their psychological, physical, financial and social wellbeing.”

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