Police officers took record-breaking 500,000 days because of ill mental health

POLICE officers took a record 500,000 days off because of mental ill health, new data has revealed. 

The record breaking figure represented an increase at 24 forces, following a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, but was no surprise” according to Zoë Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation. 

She said: Its not rocket science. You reduce police officer numbers, so out of the officers that youve got left to go to all the traumatic incidents youve got fewer. So those officers are going to more traumatic incidents than they would do if we had adequate numbers of police officers, because the trauma would then be shared around. Obviously its not good that its shared around, but for a lot of officers its the repeated trauma. 

Theyre not getting time to process and deal with, for example, going to a road traffic collision where somebody dies, and then the next minute theyre going to a fight or theyre being assaulted. The next day theyre going to a suicide. 

The levels of trauma that officers are having to deal with is too much for most people. So its no surprise that officers are struggling and need time off work. We cant have officers in the workplace, driving fast cars, carrying Tasers, carrying guns, who arent well enough to do that.” 

Zoë described the situation officers are in as a perfect storm, as trauma and workplace stress caused by unmanageable demand are compounded by the cost of living crisis. 

She added: Money is such a big stress factor. If youre worried about not being able to put food on the table, not being able to feed your kids – that is such a huge stress. Ive heard of people outside of policing that have taken their own lives over financial problems. If youve got all that going on at home, plus youre then going to all this trauma at work, and the stress of the workload, working shifts and being tired, its going to be really difficult.

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