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Number Of Hampshire Police Officers Signed Off With Mental Health Issues Falls

The number of Hampshire Police Officers signed off through stress, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder has fallen.

Figures show that 198 officers were signed off in the year ending in March compared with 240 the year before.

But we're being told to remember there are a thousand fewer officers now too.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair John Apter spoke to us about the stats.

Hampshire Police Federation Facebook Statement:

The number of officers signed off through stress, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder has decreased at Hampshire Police.

A total of 198 officers were signed off in the financial year ending March 2015, compared with 240 the year before. Of these, 158 were police constables, 27 were sergeants and 13 were inspectors. And of the officers signed off in the last financial year, 94 were suffering from stress.

The figures came to light in a request made under the Freedom of Information Act.

Nationally one in 20 police officers took time off sick last year due to stress, depression or anxiety – that is 6,200 police officers signed off.

This represents an increase from the previous financial year, when 5,460 officers took time off sick.

John Apter, Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said:

"By next year we will have reduced police officer numbers across Hampshire Constabulary by almost 1,000. Over the past 12 months alone we have reduced officer numbers by 270. So although the reduction in officers with mental health-related issues has dropped slightly, we must put this in context with the reduction in overall numbers.

“The role performed by police officers and the pressures they face can, without proper support, take its toll. For far too long forces, including Hampshire, have been slow to respond to the mental health wellbeing of their own officers and staff.

“I meet officers who are suffering from mental health illnesses, they often feel isolated and unsupported. Police officers are human beings. Yes, they are trained and experienced in dealing with a wide range of incidents, but there comes a point when even the most robust of officers needs support. That support, for many, has been lacking.”

Mr Apter said his Chief Constable Andy Marsh recognises this as an issue which requires investment and that he is committed to improve the position.

He added: “We have worked hard to improve the support we give to members of the public suffering from mental health issues, we mustn't ignore the needs of our own people.”

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, the NPCC’s lead on wellbeing and engagement, said:

“Undoubtedly all the issues of reducing numbers and occupational health department cuts are relevant to those suffering.

“Stress is a health epidemic of the 21st century and we must react quickly to help our officers and staff through tough times. We know from a range of surveys and research that, on top of what can be by its very nature a stressful job, the levels of uncertainty and change within the service are increasing stress levels.

“The national wellbeing and engagement working group is looking to develop a national approach, beginning with a Public Health Responsibility Deal that the service is signing up to in partnership with the Department of Health.”

Other help is available in the meantime. If you need confidential advice or support on any of these issues, call the mental health charity Mind’s Blue Light Infoline on 0300 303 5999.

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