Humza Yousaf 'very satisfied' with support offered to police officers struggling with mental illness

Mr Yousaf said Police Scotland has been "excellent" at making sure support is available for officers and staff who need it.
Mr Yousaf said Police Scotland has been "excellent" at making sure support is available for officers and staff who need it.
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Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has said he is "very satisfied" with support offered to police officers struggling with mental illness.

He conceded he was "concerned" by figures uncovered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which revealed there had been an 11 per cent rise in sick days taken by officers due to mental ill health over the last two years.

But he said that since its creation as a national force in 2013, Police Scotland has been "excellent" at making sure support is available for officers and staff who need it.

• READ MORE: Mobile roll-out will mean more police officers on Scottish streets: Humza Yousaf
He said: "The job of a police officer can be challenging, challenging for your mental health as well as your physical health.

"The police have been excellent since the creation of the single police force in making sure they provide very upfront support for people."

While he said the figures - raised by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie at First Minister's Questions on Thursday - give him "cause for concern", there are appropriate support structures in place.

Mr Rennie said the "shocking" figures show "the number of working days lost to mental ill health has gone up 11% in just two years for police officers, for police staff it is 25".

Speaking on Friday, Mr Yousaf said: "It gives me cause for concern, but on the other hand I'm very satisfied the support structures are in place for those officers for their mental wellbeing to be addressed."

Mr Rennie said: "The Justice Secretary is being complacent. The shocking figures I presented to the First Minister yesterday demand more than warm words.

"A full police staff survey is needed to actually understand whether their needs are being met.

"The last one showed only 8 per cent of staff thought the national force cared about their wellbeing, so it's no surprise the follow-up is running years late."

He said the police workforce needs extra mental health staff to ease the pressure they face.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said 800 mental health workers are being put in place over five years, including at police custody suites and A&E departments.

She added: "This will help to ensure people have better access to mental health support at a time and place where they may need it the most."

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said on Thursday: "The wellbeing of our officers and staff is a priority and we have a range of support mechanisms in place."