02/10/2016 00:01 BST | Updated 02/10/2017 06:12 BST

Police And Civilian Staff With Mental Ill Health Take Almost 200,000 Sick Days

Police officers and staff suffering from psychological problems have taken almost 200,000 sick days over the last three years, new figures show.

The figures, released by Police Scotland to the Liberal Democrats under Freedom of Information laws, show police officers struggling with mental ill health took 141,230 sick days between 2013 and 2016.

Over the same period there were 54,019 working days lost by civilian staff who cited psychological problems.

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said the figures were evidence of a force "being stretched to breaking point".

He said: "Police officers and civilian staff work tirelessly to help keep us safe every day in communities across Scotland. But they are not getting the support they need from the Government.

"The savings that were promised by the SNP before the creation of Police Scotland have not materialised. As a result, officers and civilian staff are being asked to do more and more with less. With the chief constable warning that further cuts are coming, the pressure on staff is only likely to get worse.

"We have already seen staff surveys which show morale is at rock bottom. The shortages are affecting the health of officers and civilian staff and these new figures are a huge concern. Policing is a high-stress profession at the best of times. The changes that the SNP forced through are stretching the mental health of officers and civilian staff to breaking point.

"This means giving police management the freedom to put resources where they are needed. Extra money is also required to plug the hole in the national force's budget and avert the loss of staff which would only put those remaining further under the cosh."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Police officers and support staff do an excellent job and their welfare is taken very seriously.

"We expect Police Scotland to have robust policies in place to support staff and manage their health at work and they have a number of targeted activities to support wellbeing and occupational health across the organisation.

"We have committed to protecting the police revenue budget in real terms, safeguarding policing from Westminster budget cuts and delivering an additional £100 million of investment by the end of this Parliament, in addition to £55 million of reform funding in 2016-17."

A Scottish Police Authority (SPA) spokeswoman said: "The SPA recognise and value the contribution of our workforce. We regularly scrutinise absence levels to ensure they are effectively monitored and managed.

"We also ensure all officers and staff have access to a range of support options, including an appropriate independent occupational health service which can be tailored to individual needs.

"As a responsible employer we have placed major importance and priority on listening to the police workforce and acting on the issues raised."