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Gloucestershire Police Federation

Record Number Of UK Officers Signed Off Due To Mental Ill Health

27 November 2023

Police officers often suffer from poor mental health due to workplace stress and inadequate management, Gloucestershire Police Federation has said, as a record number of UK officers were reported to be signed off for psychological illnesses. 

A Freedom of Information request found that over 13,000 UK officers were signed off over the past year due to stress, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. The figure is 80% up on a decade ago. In Gloucestershire Constabulary alone, 137 officers were reported to be signed off for ill mental health, up from 123 officers the previous year.  

Gloucestershire Police Federation Chair Steve James said the reasons for mental ill health in policing were many, and that it was having a “massive impact” on officers. 

He said: “We see the impact of stress on officers on a daily basis. We lose thousands of hours a year to psychological sickness.  

“The figures from our own force show that we lost something in the region of £800,000 worth of officer time in 2022/23 purely through mental-health sickness. In the broader picture, that’s a big hit on police efficiency, but on an individual basis that’s a massive impact on each of those officers.  

“We all sign up to do this job and while we accept that the job comes with its challenges, both physical and mental, none of us want to be ill with stress, depression, anxiety or PTSD.  

“The question is how you tackle that, because what causes these illnesses is really broad. People often associate it with direct exposure to trauma, violence and abuse, but when you look at the research we’ve done in our force, that’s not always the main contributor.  

“Quite often it’s workload, it’s workplace stress, it’s a lack of support from management and poor management, it’s the mistreatment of those with protected characteristics, and lack of access to flexible working. There are a whole range of issues, both in the workplace and in doing the work we do that contribute to that.” 

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July 2024
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