A total of 371,988 Metropolitan Police working days were lost due to mental health over a four-year period, new figures reveal.
Official data shows numbers are up nearly 25,000 per year, from 81,576 in the 2018/19 financial year to 106,412 in 2021/22 – a 30 percent rise.
Days off taken by police officers for issues such as stress, anxiety, depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased by more than 10,000 in the same period – a 15 percent jump. Days Met staff were signed-off work for psychological illness more than doubled – a 107 percent increase.
City representative in City Hall, Labour’s London Assembly Policing and Crime Spokesperson, Unmesh Desai, who obtained the data, wants better training, support and pay for officers and staff to combat the “worrying” rise.
As of August 2022, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) employed more than 43,000 officers and staff, including 33,843 police officers, up from nearly 39,500, including 30,445 police officers, in 2018.
This new data, revealed in a written answer to Desai from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, shows a total of 293,324 ‘Officer’ and 78,663 ‘Staff’ mental health sick days from the start of the 2018/19 to the end of the 2021/22 financial year.
The amount of police officer working days lost went up from 68,283 to 78,859 in that period, while the number of days staff were signed off has risen from 13,293 to 27,553 per year.
In his response to Desai, the Mayor said that “there is further work being conducted by the MPS to understand the specific elements driving the increase, particularly for police staff and any additional steps required to support staff”.
A record 13,263 police officers were signed off work last year due to mental health across England and Wales, according to a recent Police Oracle report. This compares to 8,450 in the previous year – a 57 percent increase.
It comes as data obtained last month through a separate question to the Mayor from Desai revealed Met Police officers dealt with 117,827 callouts involving individuals experiencing mental health crises from the start of 2018 to the end of June 2022.
Desai said: “These worrying figures give a real-time indication how mental health issues prevent the police performing their day-to-day duties.
“Underpaid, hardworking police officers and staff worked tirelessly through the pandemic with courage and professionalism, and are under pressure every day. They are some of the bravest in society, but they also need support.
“Policing has evolved to encompass multiple roles, officers face dealing with distressing incidents involving highly vulnerable people more often. They must be properly trained to deal with these situations.
“The Met should record all traumatic callouts and make sure staff have access to regular confidential meetings with supervisors to ensure they are coping.”