Essex: Big rise in police stress statistics

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- Credit: IAN BURT

THE number of days stressed police officers have taken off sick has doubled to more than 9,000 in the past three years, new figures have revealed.

The statistics, released by Essex Police following a Freedom of Information request, reflect the number of stress-related absences within the constabulary since 2010.

Officers took 9,139 days, including weekends and rest days, off due to stress last year – a sharp rise on the 4,594 sick days recorded in 2010.

In the past three years a total of 20,517 days were lost due to sickness.

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said the figures represented a challenge for Essex Police’s new chief constable.

“A high sickness absence rate is a strong indicator of low morale, low motivation and poor leadership,” he said. “An organisation going through change might suffer a higher sickness rate but the leadership should be addressing this with determination to find out why people are opting to stay at home rather than coming into work.

“This is a big challenge for the new chief constable.”

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The total number of rostered days officers took off sick with stress between 2010 and 2012 was 13,268.

Figures show there were 2,928 absences recorded in 2010, 4,325 the following year and 6,015 in 2012.

In a statement Essex Police said: “Policing has always been a demanding job and in the 21st Century it remains the case.

“This places great demands on our officers and staff on a daily basis.

“We are aware that there has been a rise in stress-related sickness over the last few years.

“This is not wholly attributable to the work place as stress occurs in all our lives through financial matters, family stresses and bereavements etc.

“Given the current economic climate it is safe to say that some of this increase will mirror personal stress suffered in many large organisations at this time.”

The force adheres to national guidelines in relation to long-term sick pay. It allows officers with long-term sickness to be fully paid and then each case is individually reviewed.

The statement added: “During the past few years Essex Police has also undergone major operational changes as it strives to save millions of pounds from its budget.

“This has resulted in several rounds of redundancies which has been stressful for all those involved.”

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