Stress-related absences rise at Gloucestershire Police

Stress-related absence has increased by two-thirds over a 12-month period at Gloucestershire Police, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

The number of days lost to stress rose to 4,254 in 2011/12, an increase from 2,586 in the previous year.

Gloucestershire's Assistant Chief Constable said she was "concerned" by the findings.

The statistics were released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, following a request by the BBC.

The average length of time officers were off sick also increased to 55 days from 45 days the year before, the figures show.

Assistant Chief Constable Sally Crook said: "Of course we are concerned about the increase but the figures are complex.

'Increased workload'

"Certainly spending cuts are having an impact on our staff. We know that the top causes of public sector stress throughout the country are considerable organisational change and workload.

"We've changed the way we deploy our officers. We've had to deal with the Government spending review and the cuts to our budget, and as the number of officers are reducing then the workload has gone up.

"Our responsibility is to ensure that is manageable."

Miss Crook said a direct link between the Government spending review and the health of police officers could not be made, "although the national figures would tell us that organisational change does have a major impact on stress and anxiety on public sector workers, so it would make sense that it does have an impact on our staff".

A review into how the force deals with officers who are off sick has recently been launched, Miss Crook added.

"The fact more people are willing to come forward saying they've got psychological issues is promising and something we need to look into," she said.

"Some of these stresses clearly are work related, but it's a very complex environment."

Secretary of Gloucestershire Police Federation, Graham Riley, said: "We are aware there is a problem. We are working with the force to make things better."

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