Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is today using a visit to Leith Men's shed to disclose the results of "devastating" new expert research which shows many of Scotland's police officers are neither mentally or physically well, and that many go to work despite this.
The opinions expressed by officers dismantle the Justice Secretary's claim that he is "very satisfied" with the support services in place for them.
The findings of world renowned Canadian academic Professor Linda Duxbury emerged in an exchange of correspondence between the Liberal Democrat leader and Scottish Police Federation General Secretary Calum Steele. It shows:
- Almost half the officers suffer from exhaustion.
- 57% of officers reported that a lack of resources to do the work caused them high degrees of stress.
- Over 1/3 of officers (35%) reported they went to work whilst mentally unwell in the previous six months (on an average of 18.8 occasions).
- 21% of officers reported high levels of depressed mood.
- 1 in 10 officers reported drinking alcohol / taking prescription drugs is used as a coping mechanism.
- Only 3% of officers agreed that the Police Scotland really cared about their wellbeing; 71% disagreed.
- 64% of officers considered that Police Scotland showed very little concern for them.
The research team surveyed police officers in 6 policing divisions across Scotland during May, June and September.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie commented:
"Earlier this month, I challenged the First Minister about the spiralling rates of mental health absences I had uncovered in the police. She didn't have a solution, and now it emerges that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
"This new research presents a devastating breakdown of the health of Scotland's police officers. Far too many are exhausted, depressed and being pushed towards alcohol and drugs in order to cope.
"Policing is a rewarding but tough job. However, the extent to which the job is making people unwell is shocking. The conditions they are working in are fundamentally unsafe. The culture is all wrong if people feel they have to be out on the beat when they know they aren't fit to be there.
"Officers feel that those at the top aren't doing anything like enough. They have been telling me for a long time that they don't get the support they need. Now it's there in black and white.
"The national force and Justice Secretary must today end their complacency and stop expecting police officers to operate in these conditions. They need to urgently coordinate a new emergency programme of support.
"Liberal Democrats will lay down this challenge at Parliament on Wednesday."