Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stress Days Up at 200% Police Force

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stress Days Up at 200% Police Force

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY McKENZIE

SOARING numbers of Cleveland police officers are taking time off sick due to stress and anxiety, a report has revealed.

The number of working days lost because of officers suffering from stress has soared by more than 200% in 2011/12.

Meanwhile, overall sickness absence at the force leapt 50% in just 12 months.

A report by Jacqui Cheer, Cleveland's Temporary Chief Constable says that a large increase in stress, depression and anxiety related illnesses has occurred.

The latest sickness absence figures will be outlined at a meeting of Cleveland Police Authority's policy and resources panel tomorrow.

Mrs Cheer says the surge in sickness absence comes amid a "significant amount of organisational change" over the past two years.

"That organisational change will continue for some time to come and will continue to have a direct impact on everyone in the force," says Mrs Cheer.

Steve Matthews, Cleveland Police Federation's chairman, blamed Government policies for putting pressure on the police and he warned that in the future it could lead to officers resigning from the force.

In 2011/12 the average days lost per police officer in Cleveland was 9.16. In 2010/11 it was 6.02.

The average for police staff was 9.08 days lost in 2011-12 compared to 7.22 the previous year.

The main reasons for police officers' absence was stress - 2,790 working days lost (compared to 894 in 2010/11), back injuries and complaints - 1,918 (1091), operation 1,818 (1,723) depression and anxiety 979 (367).

The report shows: [bar] The number of police officer working days lost rose by 4,672 days from 9,911 on 2010/11 to 14,583; [bar] It had happened at a time when the establishment had been reducing which had resulted in a greater impact on the average; [bar] The average number of working days lost per person had increased from 6.02 days to 9.16 days - a 52% increase; [bar] 73% of working days lost was due to long-term sickness - the figure for 2010-11 was 59%; [bar] With the exception of inspectors, all ranks had incurred more sickness, particularly constables; [bar] A large increase in stress, depression and anxiety related illnesses had occurred; [bar] An increase in the number of physical injuries and complaints had occurred not necessarily due to injuries on duty; [bar] A higher number of cases of serious and life threatening illnesses were being experienced, and [bar] Short-term sickness was broadly static. …

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