Police service pays out over £4m a year to officers suffering from stress

The Sunday Herald reports that the Scottish police service is paying out more than £4 million a year on officers who are signed off from duty suffering symptoms of stress. New figures have revealed that stress-related illness amongst officers has reached record levels, resulting in the loss of thousands of working days each year and placing an extra burden on over-stretched staff.

"In Strathclyde, Scotland’s largest force, 3400 working days were lost last year to officers absent through stress, at a cost of £1,196,780. In contrast, just 965 working days were lost to stress in 1999, costing £270,000. The figures show that in just six years the number of working days lost to stress has jumped by 252% and the cost to the force is up by 343%. Over that period, a total of 299 officers were signed off at a cost of more than £5.7m.

Despite the fact that officers in Strathclyde deal with more fatalities and violent incidents than anywhere else, figures suggest officers from other forces are also increasingly affected by stress.

At Northern Constabulary, the number reporting sick with stress-related illnesses has jumped 140% since 2000. Last year, the largely rural force lost 4880 days to stress – more than Strathclyde and up 230% on the figure for 2000. Twelve officers were off with stress last year, at an estimated cost of almost £2m.

In Lothian and Borders, stress-related absenteeism has risen 14% since 2000, and 3098 working days, on average, are lost each year. The estimated cost is more than £1m. Last year, 57 officers were signed off work due to stress.

Dumfries and Galloway had nine officers off, at a cost of £27,618. Fife said it currently had 13 off work, while Central had 14 absent. Again, the costs could easily run to tens of thousands of pounds.

Although disturbing, the figures – released after a freedom of information request – do not reveal the total scale of the problem, as they do not include Grampian or Tayside. Grampian did not record stress-related illness and Tayside did not respond to the request."

Stress bill tops £4m as Scots officers feel strain of job (Sunday Herald, 2 April 2006)