More than 90 Cleveland Police officers off on sick leave with stress
Stress has forced more than 90 Cleveland Police officers to take sick leave in the past year.
No fewer than 92 officers up to the rank of Inspector were off due to stress between April 2018 and the end of February this year.
Glen Teeley, chairman of Cleveland Police Federation, warned the pressure of work “was breaking people” at the force – pointing to the changing nature of crime and a drop in officer numbers.
“Officers carry that with them when they go home – worrying if they have ticked all the boxes, ensured everything is done right, because these are real lives they are dealing with.
“It’s the same in domestic violence – ensuring every little bit of safeguarding has been done.
“And it’s the stress of those real time risks on the job.”
The figures were revealed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service showing how the number officers off with stress up climbed markedly in 2016.
Officers up to the rank of Inspector off sick with stress (Source: Cleveland Police)
April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 – 72
April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 – 102
April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 – 107
April 1, 2018 to February, 22, 2019 – 92
Former Chief Constable Mike Veale revealed how 100 police staff were off sick every day at the force in October – something he labelled “a source of shame” on the back of “intolerable” pressures.
Cleveland Police has lost almost 500 front line officers in the past nine years – going from 1,724 in 2010 to 1,239 at the last count in 2019.
The federation leader said the police workloads didn’t go away when an officer was off sick – with jobs passed on to colleagues.
Mr Teeley added: “In certain areas of policing, the amount of cases they are carrying is a big weight of responsibility as these are people’s lives.
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“If they have not covered every aspect of a case, they’re going home with that on their shoulders.
“Day to day you’re carrying that stress and it has a cumulative effect.”
The force has invested more money and time into wellbeing programmes for its staff.
Trauma risk management (TRiM) programmes are in place at the force as well as a partnership with mental health charity MIND.
Mr Teeley praised the work of Inspector Phil Spencer at the Blue Light Programme – a scheme which helps emergency services workers who are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
Mr Teeley added: “I was in firearms for six years and saw horrific things like picking people up off carriageways or putting body parts in bags.
“But we’re lucky as that’s where the wellbeing services come in.
“You can now sit down, get counselling and move onto the next incident.
“But again, the workload doesn’t go away.”
Government regulations ensure police are entitled to full pay on sick leave for six months in any one year period.
And Mr Teeley said Cleveland offered a lot of support in the aftermath of any period of leave.
But Cleveland Police dealt with no fewer than 15 homicide investigations in 2018 – and the federation leader said this had brought even greater pressures.
Mr Teeley added: “It’s not management pushing staff, it’s the jobs which come in.
“The number of murders we had last year was unreal – and it meant CID (Criminal Investigation Department) were pulled away from their day jobs – that has a knock-on effect.
“The days jobs don’t go away and neither does the stressful nature of it – there is still real time threat, harm and risk there.
“It can, and does, break people.”