10,000 police officers took sick leave due to stress or anxiety over the past year – the largest number in history 

  • Officers taking time off with stress has rocketed by 77 per cent over the past four years
  • In the year to March 2014, 5,460 officers took time off for stress, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • With 122,000 police officers in the country, that’s nearly one in 12 taking time off because of the stresses of the job 

Nearly 10,000 police officers took time off sick suffering from stress or anxiety over the past year – the largest number in history.

Freedom of information requests reveal that the number of officers taking time off with stress has rocketed by an astonishing 77 per cent over the past four years.

In the year to March 2014, 5,460 officers took time off for stress, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, but this had soared to 9,672 in the year to March 2018.

Freedom of information requests reveal that the number of officers taking time off with stress has rocketed by an astonishing 77 per cent over the past four years

With 122,000 police officers in the country, that’s nearly one in 12 taking time off because of the stresses of the job. The Dorset, Essex and Nottinghamshire forces did not respond to the FoI request, meaning the true number of officers with stress is likely to be over the 10,000 mark.

The highest number signed off were at the Met, with 1,086 officers off sick in the past year.

Manchester (720) and the West Midlands (601) were next, while the lowest figures were from Wiltshire and Durham, with just 70 officers each off sick with stress.

Ché Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the figures were ‘no surprise’.

He said: ‘Officers are still under increasing demand.


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‘Numbers haven’t changed and you’ve got a pressure-cooker environment exacerbated by the job itself which involves exposure to traumatic incidents. Police officers are broken.

‘If you don’t reduce the strain that officers are under, even with the best occupational health in the world, all you are going to have is a steady stream of officers wanting to access that service. We know the causes but we are only tackling the symptoms.’

Mr Donald said more officers were needed on the streets to plug the gaps and that nothing will change unless numbers were boosted. He added: ‘We need to have an honest conversation with the public about this.

‘We are policing 2018 with 1995 numbers and crime has changed. We need to ask – are we fit for purpose? Something needs to change. Otherwise the future remains bleak.’

One police officer, who asked not to be named but who has been with the Met Police for more than ten years, said this week that officers were increasingly taking time off sick with stress because they felt they had no support.

He said: ‘Most of the officers I know feel there is very little support for them in their moment of need.

‘Many of us are out there by ourselves – the days of two bobbies strolling down the street is long gone. We are dealing with an increase in crime at the same time as officer numbers are cut and the strain on officers is sometimes overwhelming.

‘I have seen many friends leave the service in the past five years because they cannot take the daily stresses any more.’

A spokesman for the Home Office said: ‘It is the responsibility of chief officers – supported by the College of Policing – to ensure the welfare of their staff.’

He added: ‘The Government takes the issue of police wellbeing very seriously and has invested in programmes, including targeted mental health support and £7.5 million over three years for a dedicated national welfare service, to directly support officers.’

‘Are we fit for purpose?’ 

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