Rural police forces losing battle with stress

British police forces are losing hundreds of man hours every year due to stress-related absence, with rural forces among the worst affected.

Figures published by show that a total of 787 officers across 35 forces in England and Wales are currently taking time off work after reporting stress-related illness.

Despite the increasing pressure on officers in large forces such as the West Midlands and the Metropolitan Police, it was Derbyshire which had the highest percentage of police officers signed off with stress.

It's thought that 30 trained Derbyshire officers are currently taking time off, equating to 1.64 per cent of their workforce. Rural Bedfordshire made the top three with 1.56 per cent of its workforce currently ruled out, while the much larger Metropolitan Police service boasted absence of just 0.33 per cent.

Phil Mason, Derbyshire's head of human resources, told that his staff benefit from a full confidential care employee assistant programme which includes counselling for treating any issues or problems that are affecting their work.

Stressed officers are entitled to take an indefinite period of time off work on full pay. This means the taxpayer could be paying over £500,000 for staff who aren't even at work.

However, this is only an estimate for the overall cost of stress-related absence in British polices forces, mainly because there are no official figures for the amount of time that each officer has taken off.