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  1. ITV Report

Exclusive: Surge in mental health-related absences in Yorkshire police forces 'may lead to workforce crisis'

The number of police staff in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire taking time off work with mental health problems has risen by a third in the last three years - prompting fears of a looming workforce crisis.

An ITV investigation has revealed that more than 1,000 staff were recorded absent from work across the region due to issues like PTSD and depression last year.

That figure compares to 800 in 2014/15 - with the region's biggest force, West Yorkshire Police, recording more than 14,500 sick days because of such problems.

It has been revealed as part of a series of special ITV reports into mental health issues within the emergency services in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Meanwhile the charity-run Police Treatment Centre in Harrogate, which only introduced an improved psychological support programme three years ago, has told ITV of a rapid rise in demand.

Bosses at the facility, which recently treated officers who were at the scene of the Manchester terror, said one in four of the 4,000 officers the charity sees every year now come for mental health support.

The effects are extremely debilitating. Demand is outstripping the numbers we're able to support and we aspire to roll out more treatment.

– Patrick Cairns, chief executive of the Police Treatment Centre

Retired and serving officers from across the region have spoken of their own experiences of mental health issues - some warning rising demand, a historic stigma and pressure on police resources is leading to a surge in absences.

Ed Simpson, a former North Yorkshire Police officer who was medically retired last year, suffered from PTSD and depression after a stint as a family liaison officer nine years ago.

He now speaks about his experiences as an ambassador for the Mind charity's Blue Light Programme, which raises awareness of the support available to emergency services staff.

Ed Simpson was medically retired as a police officer last year. Credit: Mind

There needs to be more investment in all emergency services because it runs on people these organisations are not the buildings or the cars it's the people.

Number one commodity - look after them and everything else will look after itself. But I still think sadly, if things don't improve or get better we're heading for a crisis.

– Ed Simpson

Number of staff members reported absent through mental health issues 2016/17 (2014/15):

  • South Yorkshire Police - 219 (186)
  • West Yorkshire Police - 350 (278)
  • North Yorkshire Police - 131 (87)
  • Humberside Police - 133 (69)
  • Lincolnshire Police - 116 (93)
  • Derbyshire Police - 116 (101)
  • Nottinghamshire Police - figures not reported the same way

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