Police ‘sickies’ rocket after cuts

A policeman on duty
A policeman on duty
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POLICE cuts have been blamed for a huge hike in officers taking time off sick with depression.

In Wigan alone the average officer took 12 days sick leave in 2012/13 - four more than the previous year.

The number of police officers in the borough dropped from 469 to 395 in the same period according to official figures.

Officers now say many are struggling to cope with the increased workload.

One experienced constable who did not want to be named, said: “It’s just horrendous – I can’t wait to retire, if I could go tomorrow I would.

“The pressure people are under is just horrendous. People are genuinely sick. Four or five years ago they would have just carried on and come into work and got through it.

“Now they think ‘why should I?’, because the job is just taking the mickey, big time.”

Bosses admit they are ‘concerned’ by the rates of sick leave, but stress it is a complex issue.

GMP said new HR policies had been introduced to identify triggers for illness and depression, with early intervention strategies now in place. They also say that levels of sick leave due to depression at GMP are lower than the national average, with three quarters of staff taking no sick leave between January and April 2013.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “We are naturally concerned about the number of colleagues who are currently unable to carry out their duties due to sickness absence.

“The causes are varied and complex.

“But personal related stress is often a major, contributing factor.”

The Police Federation said it was ‘inevitable’ reduced officer numbers were having an effect on health.