In Brief

Why British police are so stressed

Number of officers off sick with mental health issues has soared by 77% in four years

Nearly 10,000 police officers have taken time off because of stress, depression or other mental health problems over the past year, newly released figures show.

The number has soared by 77% in four years, from 5,460 in the year to March 2014, and is now the highest in the history of the police service.

Manchester, which in May 2017 suffered the deadliest terror attack in Britain since July 2005, has seen one of the highest increases.

Of a total 720 Manchester officers reporting mental ill health in the past financial year, 403 were suffering from stress and 42 had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The figures were revealed by police news site Police Oracle, which made Freedom of Information requests to the UK’s forces.

Dorset, Essex and Nottinghamshire Police did not respond to the requests, meaning the true number of officers off with stress is likely to be more than the 9,672 recorded, reports The Sun

The police service has faced wide-ranging cuts, with the number of officers in England and Wales falling by nearly 20,000 between September 2010 and September 2017, to 122,000.

Che Donald, vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, says he is not surprised that more are calling in sick.

“You’ve got a pressure cooker environment exacerbated by the job itself which involves exposure to traumatic incidents. Police officers are broken,” he said.

A Home Office spokesman said it took the issue of police well-being “very seriously”, and that it has invested in programmes “including targeted mental health support and £7.5m over three years for a dedicated national welfare service, to directly support officers”.

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