Record numbers of police officers signed off sick due to mental health crisis

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Record numbers of police officers are being signed off work suffering from mental health problems.

Figures show 13,263 were absent due to stress-related illnesses in the past financial year, compared with 8,450 the year before.

The 57% increase follows years of underfunding in the service and the loss of tens of thousands of officers and staff.

Met Police Federation chair Ken Marsh told the People : “This Government took a third of the policing budget away and my colleagues are now being asked to deal with far greater skills than they’re trained in as mental health practitioners aren’t around after 5pm or at weekends.

“To take last month as a snapshot, most of my colleagues worked between 20 and 22 days non-stop without a day off. No one else is asked to do that in society and it has a detrimental effect on them.”

The biggest increases in mental health related absences were at Police Scotland, which signed off 3,171 officers – up 773%.

Gwent Police was up 448% with 126 and Lancashire Police 173% with 369.

Last month, new national police federation chief Steve Hartshorn spoke of how morale among officers is at “an all-time low”.

He said the loss of 20,000 police under successive Tory regimes had caused “acute pressures” and a recent 5% pay rise promise was “only a small step”.

And he said some officers are struggling to fill their cars and some must use food vouchers because of the cost of living crisis.

The federation’s Sue Honeywill said: “One in five officers have PTSD and an overwhelming majority have experienced a traumatic incident at some point during their career, which undoubtedly has a significant impact on their mental health.

“Police officers are not robots – they take their work home and are often not able to fully switch off due to the trauma they witness.”

Latest figures show there are just over 144,000 full-time police officers in the UK.

Mr Marsh added: “A starting salary for a probationary constable is about £26,000 a year.

“You can get the same working in McDonald’s. I wouldn’t start this job now. It’s horrific.”

The Home Office said: “We’ve increased the police funding settlement by more than £1billion this year.”