Met sees increase in mental health related sickness absence
The Met has seen an increase in the amount mental health related sickness absence, new figures have shown.
1086 police officers fell ill with stress, anxiety, depression and post traumatic disorder in 2017, compared with 1051 the year before - a 3% increase.
The number of officers falling ill at the Met represents around 11% of the officers falling sick throughout the UK. Forces nationwide saw an increase, with nearly 10,000 officers having to take time off, figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act have revealed.
Che Donald, Vice Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the problem was down to under resourcing, remote supervision and too much demand.
He said the closure of police stations and the increasing use of single-crewing, meant there were fewer opportunities for managers and peers to look out for frontline officers’ mental wellbeing. He said: “The only interaction that officer has is with victims or offenders. No one has the opportunity to check on that office and their wellbeing. There is no-one sitting in the car with that person saying ‘Are you ok? Do you need five minutes?’ They are exposed to incident after incident and are then rushing to next one. It creates a cumulative build up of stress.”
The only way practical immediate way to ease the pressure on police officers is to reduce their demand, Mr Donald explains. He suggested the service giving up certain tasks, such as responding to shoplifting, common assault or criminal damage under £500.
He added: “We need to have an honest conversation with the public about this. We are policing 2018 with 1995 numbers and crime has changed. We need to ask - are we fit for purpose? Something needs to change. Otherwise the future remains bleak.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “It is the responsibility of chief officers – supported by the College of Policing – to ensure the welfare of their staff.
“The Government takes the issue of police wellbeing very seriously and has invested in programmes, including targeted mental health support and £7.5million over three years for a dedicated national welfare service, to directly support officers.”