Exclusive: Police chiefs in West Yorkshire say demands of job are affecting officers' mental health

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THE strain on policing in West Yorkshire is taking an increasing toll on officers’ mental health, police chiefs have said.

More than 700 officers and staff had to take time off due to stress, anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder in 2017/18, figures obtained by The Yorkshire Post show.

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police

This resulted in the loss of 23,000 working days, a number which has doubled in five years.

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “It is well recognised that policing is a stressful job and the Chief Officer Team is acutely aware that pressures on staff have increased in recent years.

“We have seen an increase in demand at a time when resources have decreased, and the effects of this on officers and staff with regards to mental health are well recognised both nationally and in West Yorkshire.”

Ms Williams said line managers were trained to spot symptoms of mental health issues in staff, and added: “We have lots of support services for staff, both online and in person, including peer support networks and trained listeners, and are also undertaking additional training with the charity Mind to improve our provision.”

Craig Grandison, the vice-chairman of the Police Federation in West Yorkshire, said while people were more willing to report mental health issues than they had been in years gone by, officers were also under increasing strain.

He said: “The pressure on the frontline policing, and even the second-line policing and back office functions, is more acute than it has ever been. Therefore, the stress and strain the officers are under is terrific, compared to what it used to be.

“Is the force doing enough? No. I don’t think any force, in fairness, is doing enough.

“They have reducing budgets and interventions into mental health wellbeing cost significant amounts of money.”

Mr Grandison said the Police Federation now funded counselling services five days a week in West Yorkshire, but this was over-subscribed.

The figures were released in a delayed response to a Freedom of Information request.

Last week, The Yorkshire Post revealed that nearly 1,500 emergency service workers across Yorkshire had taken time off sick last year due to mental health conditions, although West Yorkshire Police had not provided its figures by that point.

Earlier this week, a police officer at a force in the North-West tried to take his own life outside a major police station.

The officer was reportedly saved by colleagues at Cheshire Police outside the main entrance of its headquarters in Winsford on Monday morning.

Cheshire Police said an ambulance was called and the officer was taken to hospital for treatment.