Exclusive by Lauren Everitt
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
POLICE officers have missed nearly 4,000 working days in the past three years due to stress, shocking figures have revealed.
The statistics, released by Suffolk police following a Freedom of Information request, reflect the number of stress-related absences within the constabulary since 2009.
A total of 126 officers took 3,955 working days - the equivalent to 29,666 hours and 64 minutes- off work between September 2009 and November 2012.
Matt Gould, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, said the figures were not unexpected but not acceptable.
“It’s an issue that affects all police forces, not just Suffolk Constabulary,” he said. “We have taken measures within Suffolk Constabulary to tackle the issue of stress-related sickness and other sickness.
“We are in a situation now where our officers have access to an occupational health department and to counsellors, which is helping, but of course we are reducing the number of officers in the modern day police force.
“Obviously the workload doesn’t go down, it goes up, as do the expectations and pressures of work.”
The minimum length of time an officer was off work was just two hours, while one police officer recorded a total of 2,876 hours - more than a year - signed off with stress.
Mr Gould said: “We are doing out bit to try and tackle the problem.
“In recent times Suffolk Constabulary has spent time, effort and money on reducing sickness and that has borne through.”
The Force adheres to national terms and conditions in relation to long-term sick pay. It allows officers with long-term sickness to receive up to six months full pay, followed by six months half-pay.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “It is important to note that stress can be triggered by a multitude of reasons to which Suffolk Constabulary takes a pro-active and sensitive approach.
“Any officers and staff suffering from stress related illness and conditions are supported throughout their illness with a view to helping them recover and return to the workplace as quickly as possible.
“This includes immediate referral to the Constabulary’s occupational health team as well as access to counselling and additional support from the human resources department.”