More than 53,000 Police Scotland working days 'lost to stress'

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image captionLabour said the figures showed it was time for the SNP "got a grip on policing

More than 53,000 working days at Police Scotland have been lost to stress in the past two years, according to figures from Scottish Labour.

Between January and March this year, more than 10,000 absences were recorded due to anxiety and depression.

Police Scotland said the numbers were falling and services had not been adversely affected by absences.

Labour's legal affairs spokeswoman Elaine Murray said it was time the SNP government "got a grip on policing".

Ms Murray added: "The fact that under the SNP government more than 53,000 working days have been lost to stress in the last two years is shocking.

"Although modest progress has been made, the spike at the start of this year is concerning. The SNP government should investigate why there was such a big increase compared to the same time last year.

"Our police officers and civilian staff need more support to cope with the difficult situations they find themselves in, so that fewer working days are lost to stress and they can get on with the job of keeping people safe."

The Freedom of Information figures were released as the fallout continued over the failings that led to Lamara Bell and John Yuill remaining in a crashed car for three days.

image captionJohn Yuill and Lamara Bell remained in their crashed car for three days after the incident was reported to police

Ms Bell, 25, and her 28-year-old boyfriend were involved in a crash off the M9 near Stirling on Sunday 5 July.

The incident was reported that day via a 101 call to police from a member of the public, but the message was not logged in the system and no action was taken at the time.

The pair were only discovered in the car three days later after police received a further call to the scene.

Mr Yuill was found dead inside the blue Renault Clio. Ms Bell, who was discovered alive but critically ill, died in hospital a week after the crash.

Two investigations are under way to review police call handling and Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House has faced calls to resign.

Closely monitored

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said the total number of days lost through stress-related absence had fallen year on year by more than 17,000 since the single police force was set up two years ago.

She added: "Police Scotland has almost 23,000 people who work for the service and in common with any other large organisation recognises that stress can be a factor in absence rates amongst personnel.

"We work hard to ensure that having come through the most significant public sector reform of recent generations, absence and the causes of it are closely monitored and managed to ensure attendance at work is maintained and the level of service to communities is not adversely affected."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland "take the welfare and wellbeing of their officers and staff seriously" and provide a range of support services to help officers and staff "in what can be a stressful job".

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