AROUND 10 per cent of North Yorkshire Police officers took sick leave for stress and mental health issues in one year, new figures have shown.

Statistics released by the force show 146 officers took sick leave for depression, anxiety, stress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in 2016/17. The figures were branded “a significant cause for concern” by the Police Federation.

According to the force, 97 PCs took sick leave - 22 for depression, 10 for anxiety, and 65 for stress. Twenty-two detective constables also took sick leave - six for depression, one for anxiety and 15 for stress. Six officers ranked detective inspector, detective sergeant or superintendent were also taken ill - one for depression and five for stress.

Officers of sergeant or inspector ranks were also affected, with one taking leave for depression, one for anxiety and 19 for stress.

Rob Bowles, chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “The role of police officer is stressful and sometimes traumatic and officers in North Yorkshire perform their duties with the upmost dedication and professionalism. The role itself will always be psychologically challenging but the impact could be reduced by adequate resourcing.

“The national reduction in police numbers has increased workloads and this has been compounded by the breadth of work that officers now undertake. Officers are being increasingly called upon to service a growing non-crime demand to bridge gaps in local services like mental health. Nationally and locally the police service is stretched, our members are feeling it and the public is noticing it.”

North Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward said the figures were “obviously higher than we would want them to be - which goes to show the demands of the policing environment”.

She said: “Day to day our officers and staff deal with the aftermath of violence, fatal road accidents, threatening behaviour – things that most people would naturally shy away from, but that we walk towards. It is inevitable that these things take their toll, and we will never take that risk out of policing. What we can do is make sure we look after our people as well as we possibly can, and provide the support they need to recover from handling these situations.”

Officers, especially those in high-risk jobs, are regularly screened, DCC Winward said, and a team of trained welfare advisers were on hand to provide counselling.

She said a new Trauma Risk Management initiative (TRiM), launched this week, had 40 trained practitioners able to assess and help people who have experienced trauma at work.

DCC Winward added: “They themselves are officers and staff who understand the types of experiences you can face in the police service, so it really is a service by police, for police.

Mr Bowles said: “The Federation welcomes the measures taken by the organisation to address these concerns but national pressures on police numbers remain a significant problem.”