New research from the Scottish Liberal Democrats has found that mental ill health has led to Police Scotland officers and staff taking more than 350,000 working days off since the national force was established.
Data obtained through a freedom of information request from Police Scotland has revealed that since 2013, the following working time has been lost due to mental health issues:
- 262,000 working days lost among police officers;
- 93,500 working days lost among police staff.
The reasons for these absences could include anxiety, depression, insomnia and other psychological disorders.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP commented:
“Police officers and staff work hard, day and night, to keep our communities safe. They deserve immense thanks for their fantastic work in what can be a very stressful working environment.
"Sadly, these new figures show the toll of mental ill health. Approximately 350,000 working days have been lost for this reason since Police Scotland was established.
"Officers and staff need to have full confidence that their employer will understand and support them through any periods of ill health. The staff survey in 2015 found that just 8% of officers and staff believed the service was genuinely interested in their wellbeing. I hope that they now have more confidence.
"However, the Scottish Police Federation recently warned that budget cuts are putting officers and prisoners under an inordinate amount of pressure. With many of the benefits of the SNP's centralisation failing to materialise, officers are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources. While they have risen admirably to the challenge it is inevitable that the increased pressures they’re under will have an impact upon their health and wellbeing.
"Of course, there are problems with long waits for mental health treatment nationwide. Until the Scottish Government takes this crisis seriously and ends the scandal that has seen some wait two years for treatment, it won't only be the police service that is affected. That is why Liberal Democrats have, for example, argued for mental health practitioners in every GP surgery and A&E in the country."