Long-term sick leave among police for psychological issues ‘up by a third’
The number of police officers and staff taking long-term sick leave for psychological reasons has gone up by over a third in the past five years, police have said.
Despite overall employee numbers falling, the number of police officers and police staff taking time off for psychological reasons went up from 4,544 in 2010 to 6,129 in 2015.
The figures, which come from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by BBC Radio 5 live Daily, also show a steadyincrease in overall long-term sick leave over the same period.
In 2010/11, 19,825 employees were recorded as being on long-term sick leave – defined by forces as either 28 or 29 days or more – compared with 22,547 in 2014/15.
Of the 46 forces in the UK, 40 responded to the BBC’s FOI. They came from England, Wales and Northern Ireland; Police Scotland did not reply.
West Yorkshire Police recorded the largest rise in long-term sick leave over a year – up 44% between 2013/14 and 2014/15 – with Warwickshire police showing the biggest decrease, 17%.
Police forces have seen their number of employees decrease, with cuts leading to a drop of 17,000 officers since 2010 according to Che Donald, from the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents frontline police officers.
Mr Donald said that overall crime had gone up and described the police service as “overstretched and overworked”.
He told the BBC: “The increase in sickness levels, including mental health and psychological issues, does not come as a surprise.
“We are seeing more officers needing to take time off for mental health reasons; they are often working in highly stressful fast-moving environments along with being exposed to horrific situations which takes its toll.”
In October 2014 the Government allocated £10 million to help support emergency services personnel and volunteers, focused on mental health, physical recuperation and bereavement support, Mike Penning, the minister for policing, told BBC Radio 5 live Daily.
He said: “Policing, by its very nature, is a stressful and demanding job and it is the responsibility of chief officers, with help from the College of Policing, to ensure police officers and staff are supported in their work.”
‘Good times’ at an end as cost of petrol rises
Motorists have been warned that the period of lower fuel prices is over after the cost of petrol rose last month for the first time since July 2015.
Experts said the 3.4p per litre (ppl) rise in average pump prices to 105p was a result of oil reaching 40 US dollars a barrel for the first time since early December.
The report by the RAC found that around £1.84 was added to the cost of filling up an average 55-litre car with unleaded.
Diesel forecourt prices increased by 3.7ppl to 105p despite the wholesale price only rising by 1.5p, according to the motoring organisation’s analysis.
The RAC claimed this indicates that retailers are either using the lower diesel wholesale cost to subsidise the price of petrol or using it as a means of increasing their profit margin.
Simon Williams, the firm’s fuel spokesman, said: “The good times for motorists enjoying lower fuel prices had to come to an end at some point, but unfortunately it’s happened with a bit more of a bump than motorists were probably expecting.”
He warned that there could be further bad news for motorists when oil producers meet later this month to discuss limiting their output, although he does not believe prices will reach 60 US dollars a barrel in the short-term .
“It looks as though we are heading towards a new norm of the oil price fluctuating between lower and upper limits of 35 US dollars and 55 US dollars a barrel,” he said.
“This means that motorists should hopefully not see the eye-watering prices they were paying at the pumps in April 2012 when the average price of petrol was 142p and diesel was close to 150p per litre.”
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