Police long-term sick leave 'up by a third' over psychological issues

The number of officers and staff taking time off for psychological reasons has increased

The number of police officers and staff taking long-term sick leave for psychological reasons has gone up by over a third in the past five years, police have said.

Despite overall employee numbers falling, the number of police officers and police staff taking time off for psychological reasons went up from 4,544 in 2010 to 6,129 in 2015.

The figures, which come from a Freedom of Information request submitted by BBC Radio 5 live Daily, also show a steady increase in overall long-term sick leave over the same period.

In 2010/11, 19,825 employees were recorded as being on long-term sick leave - defined by forces as either 28 or 29 days or more - compared with 22,547 in 2014/15.

Of the 46 forces in the UK, 40 responded to the BBC's Freedom of Information request. They came from England, Wales and Northern Ireland; Police Scotland did not reply.

West Yorkshire Police recorded the largest rise in long-term sick leave over a year - up 44% between 2013/14 and 2014/15 - with Warwickshire police showing the biggest decrease, 17%.

Police forces have seen their number of employees decrease, with cuts leading to a drop of 17,000 officers since 2010 according to Che Donald, from the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents frontline police officers.

Mr Donald said that overall crime had gone up and described the police service as "overstretched and overworked", telling the BBC: "The increase in sickness levels, including mental health and psychological issues, does not come as a surprise."