Almost 90,000 police days lost due to mental health absences, figures show

202 police officers were absent due to a psychological disorder as of September 2023, figures showed.

Almost 90,000 police days lost due to mental health absences, figures show PA Media

Almost 90,000 police days were lost because of mental ill health in the last year, figures have revealed.

Freedom of information data provided to the Scottish Liberal Democrats from Police Scotland showed 337,525 staff days were lost to psychological disorders – such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and stress – since April 2019.

And in the year to September 2023, 88,740 days were lost across Police Scotland, with officers accounting for 61,969 days, compared to 2019 when just 43,413 officers were impacted.

Figures also showed that 202 police officers and 94 staff members were absent under the psychological disorders category as of September 2023. Stress accounted for 134 and 54 absences respectively.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “These figures show the toll that mental ill health is taking on the police service. At any given time, dozens of experienced officers and staff are unavailable because they have had to step back for the sake of their health.

“Police officers are often the ones to assist us in our moments of greatest need, yet the Scottish Government has hung officers and staff out to dry when it comes to providing them with the support they need to manage their own mental health.

“As a result of SNP budget cuts, the police are clearly preparing for a future in which they have fewer officers to keep the public safe. That will mean even more pressure on the officers and staff who remain.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see many more mental health staff working alongside the police, mental health first aiders supporting colleagues and annual staff surveys to identify issues quickly and provide support wherever it is needed.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said staff welfare is one of the force’s “highest priorities”.

“Working in policing is a job like no other and our officers and staff find themselves in situations which can be stressful, traumatic and can have a lasting impact on them,” the spokeswoman added.

“Police Scotland is determined to continue to drive improvements to support our people. We have a range of mechanisms in place to support our employees including the employee assistance programme and the your wellbeing matters programme.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome the Chief Constable’s commitment to the wellbeing of officers and staff and we continue to support Police Scotland initiatives in this area.

“Officers and staff can access services to care for their physical and mental health through Police Scotland’s your wellbeing matters and their network of ‘Wellbeing Champions’.

“There are 379 more police officers than in 2007 and Scotland continues to have more officers per head of population than England and Wales. Our draft Budget investment of £1.55 billion in policing in 2024-25 – an increase of £92.7 million ­– will support frontline services and allow Police Scotland to restart officer recruitment for the year ahead.”

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