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More than 100 police officers signed off on long term leave due to ‘psychological disorders’

Mr Hamilton believes officers are facing "unprecedented demand".
Mr Hamilton believes officers are facing "unprecedented demand".

More than  100 police officers in Tayside have been signed off on long term sick leave due to mental health conditions during the past two years.

Statistics released by Police Scotland show 107 officers from Tayside Division have been off work for 28 days or more in a row between April 2015 and August this year.

All were signed off because they were suffering from poor mental health.

According to the force, the impacted officers have been off for a variety of reasons including alcohol problems, anxiety, dementia, depression as well as schizophrenia and stress.

Post traumatic stress and bereavement reaction are also causes for officer being signed off, the force says.

The Courier had asked Police Scotland for statistics dating back to the force’s establishment, but ite said a change in recording systems means only information from April 2015 onwards can be provided.

Police Scotland says it “is committed to supporting police officers and staff who are absent from work either through illness or injury and there are effective management processes in place to provide the necessary advice and assistance”.

David Hamilton, vice chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said the figures are indicative of the pressures faced by officers.

He said: “These figures underline the pressures faced by police officers in dealing with incidents, demands and experiences that most people couldn’t begin to imagine.

“They reflect the real cost of a service that is under resourced in the face of unprecedented demand.”

North East Fife MSP and Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “In the aftermath of the Scottish Government’s botched centralisation of police forces, officers and civilian staff are under immense pressure.

“Policing is a high-stress profession at the best of times. Staff surveys show morale is at rock bottom and resource shortages are affecting the health of officers and civilian staff .

“It is essential that the Scottish Government plug the hole in the national force’s budget and ensure that support for staff is in place so that we don’t lose more officers to long-term absence.”

North East MSP Liam Kerr said: “These are worrying statistics that suggest there is a growing problem in Tayside.

“Policing is a very challenging job and can take a serious psychological toll on officers.

“It is easy for people to take for granted the fact that they put their lives on the line on a daily basis.

“Police Scotland, along with trade unions and other bodies, must continue to offer what support they can to those officers who are often faced with difficult and traumatic situations in the course of a working day.

“We must review what can be done differently, and better, going forward, to better identify and arrest any increase in such disorders.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Police officers and support staff do an excellent job and their welfare is taken very seriously.

“The management of sickness absence for police officers and staff is a matter for Police Scotland.”

Police Scotland were approached for comment, but did not respond.

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