Police call centre staff hit by stress

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Nearly two-thirds of staff applied for voluntary redundancy at the Bilston Glen police call centre, which has been linked to the M9 tragedy.

A total of 88 members of the 138-strong workforce at Police Scotland’s Midlothian facility registered for the redundancy drive in January amid ongoing problems with stress-related illness.

The call centre hit the headlines recently following the deaths of a couple who were in a car crash near Stirling on July 5.

The incident was reported that day via a 101 telephone call to police. The message was not logged in the system and no action was taken at the time. The couple were discovered in the car three days later after police received a further call and attended the scene.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland are carrying out reviews into police call handling and Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House has faced calls to resign .

Figures released by Scottish Labour under freedom of information legislation showed that more than 53,000 working days at Police Scotland have been lost to stress over the past two years.

They also show that between January and March this year, 10,016 working days were lost due to stress-related conditions, an increase of 84 per cent compared with the 5,439 recorded in the same period last year.

Scottish Labour’s legal affairs spokeswoman Elaine Murray said the government should investigate the figures.

“The fact that under the SNP government more than 53,000 working days have been lost to stress in the last two years is shocking,” shesaid. “Although modest progress has been made, the spike at the start of this year is concerning. The SNP government should investigate why there was such a big increase compared to the same time last year.

“Our police officers and 
civilian staff need more support to cope with the difficult situations they find themselves in, so that fewer working days are lost to stress and they can get on with the job of keeping people safe.”