Published: 00:01, 16 August 2017
The number of sick days Kent Police officers are taking due to mental illness has more than doubled in the past seven years.
A total of 8,896 days were missed for psychological reasons last year when the average head count was 3,780, compared to 3,714 days in 2010/11 when it was 3,758.
That worked out as 2.35 days per officer, compared to one day per officer seven years ago.
The figures released following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Kent Messenger also showed while days missed as a result of any illness also increased over the same period, it was by just 12% from 19,440 to 21,689.
In total, 130 officers had at least one long-term absence (more than 28 days) due to psychological illness last year, which was down on the previous two years but more than double 2010’s total of 59.
There were 45 medium term (eight to 28 days) and 46 short term absences (up to a week) last year and 207 staff were signed off sick due to mental health issues.
In the same period, 265 staff were referred to the force's counselling service, in 2015/16 the figure was 215 and the previous year it was 251.
Eighty-nine members of staff have retired due to ill health since 2014, although the force was unable to provide the nature of their illnesses.
As a result of the increase, Kent Police has more than doubled its spending on its internal welfare and counselling department in the past two years.
In that period the force, which employs more than 6,000 people, drastically reduced spending on external providers meaning its total outlay last year was £207,006, compared to £119,889 in 2014/15.
The sickness figure has slightly reduced over that period suggesting the investment is having some impact.
Richard Leicester, head of human resources at Kent Police, said: “The force is dedicated to removing stigma attached to mental ill health and directly employs counsellors whose services are available to all officers and staff.
“Officers and staff are our most important asset and when they do return to work after an extended period of absence, we ensure support is in place.”
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