Police and support staff in Scotland have been absent for more than 165,000 working days over the past two years because of mental health issues.
Statistics released after a freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats show that 166,580 days were lost since 2019-20 as a result of “psychological disorders”.
The category takes into account staff or officers who are off with issues including alcohol problems, anxiety, post-natal depression, post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia and stress, according to Police Scotland. In 2020-21, 44,312 work days were lost among police officers, up from 43,413 the year before, while 23,935 police staff days were lost due to mental health problems in 2020-21, rising from 20,384.
Between April 1 and September 30 this year 22,163 days for officers and 12,373 days for staff were lost. A change in recording methods means the figures are not comparable with previous years.
A freedom of information request by the Scottish Conservatives shows 68 officers during the period retired early from mental ill health.
Liam McArthur, the Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, said the figures showed “the brutal toll” mental ill health was taking on the force.
David Hamilton of the Scottish Police Federation said: “Policing takes its toll on people, not just through the trauma that we deal with it, not just through the risk and responsibility that we carry, but also through the long hours and short notice disruption to our lives.
Fiona Taylor, deputy chief constable, said police work was “relentless but rewarding”, adding there was “a range of mechanisms to support our people, including an employee assistance programme, a wellbeing champion network, post-trauma assessment and mental fitness training.”
The Scottish government said: “Officers and staff can access a range of services to care for their physical and mental health through Police Scotland’s Your Wellbeing Matters programme.”