Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today urged the police to conduct the “long overdue” service-wide staff survey and ensure it is providing them with sufficient support after it was revealed the force has lost over 200,000 days to officer absences because of mental ill health.
Figures provided by Police Scotland in response to Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests revealed police officers have been off work for a total of 201,936 days since 2015 due to mental ill health. Reasons for absence included anxiety, depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress.
The number of officers absent increased from 768 to 835.
Information provided by Police Scotland also shows:
- At any time, the number of police officers long-term absent due to mental ill health is around 100;
- At any time, the number of police staff long-term absent due to mental ill health is around 50;
Liam McArthur said:
“Being on the front line of policing is a rewarding but at times harrowing job. These figures reveal the heavy toll that mental ill health is having on those that do this critical work as well as across the police service as a whole.
“Officers and staff do an excellent job keeping the public safe but the force is under severe strain. Budgets are squeezed and civilian staff numbers have taken a huge hit since the SNP’s centralisation.
“It was shocking when the last staff survey, conducted in 2015, found that just 8% of officers and staff believed the service was genuinely interested in their wellbeing. They felt stretched.
“We need to learn whether this has changed, so I urge Police Scotland and the SPA to start 2019 off right by conducting a long-overdue survey of officers and staff.
“The SNP Government must also recognise that it cannot continue to rely on individuals’ goodwill to paper over the cracks created by their botched centralisation. And it must end the scandal of long waits for mental health treatment because people in any line of work can’t afford to wait two years for the help they need.”