A senior Cumbria police officer has said the force takes the welfare of its officers “very seriously” after new figures revealed dozens have taken time out for mental health reasons.

Superintendent Lisa Hogan, head of people at Cumbria Constabulary, said that the health and wellbeing of the force’s officers and staff “is a priority.”

This comes after figures, obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information request from policing news service Police Oracle, show that in the 2019 and 2020 financial year, 86 Cumbria police officers were signed off for mental health issues such as stress, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nationally, 9,874 officers took time out of work for mental heath issues. Five UK police forces did not provide figures.

Paul Williams, chairman of the Cumbria Police Federation, the body representing frontline officers, said the figures are “certainly not surprising” given rising crime rates nationally and a “decade of cuts” placing more pressure on officers.

“The demand’s risen and crime has gone up. Cops are run into the ground,” he said.

“And that’s causing a lot of mental health issues. There’s a more complex way of policing now and that’s having an effect on cops’ mental health.”

Mr Williams added that he was concerned that police officers who are struggling with their mental health may not speak up for a long time, until “all of a sudden it hits them like a hammer and they’re signed off. So the damage has been done before they’re admitting that they’re broken. We’re trying to play catch-up.”

Mr Williams added that the Cumbria Police Federation provides services to “look after cops”.

“But it’s about catching it early, and unfortunately we’re seeing the results of a decade of real strain on policing.”

This is the seventh year Police Oracle has run the survey. Since it began, there has been a 57 per cent rise in officers being signed off for mental health reasons over that time.

Andy Rhodes, National Police Chiefs Council lead for organisational development and wellbeing and Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, said that there is now less of a stigma around mental health in the police, but that the service needs to “gear up its provision so that when you do stick your hand up and say you’re struggling, you’re going to get the support you’ve been promised. That unmet need is still significant.”

“And in some forces it’s causing pressure on their occupational health to be able to provide the levels of service that are required.”

Superintendent Hogan added: “We take our duty to look after our workforce very seriously.

“Our officers and staff work hard all-year-round to keep the public safe and many roles in policing place high demands on individuals.

“We have numerous schemes designed to support our staff so they can help keep our communities safe.

“We also work with staff associations to make sure our people are as supported as they can be as they carry out their duties for our communities.

“We will continue to regularly review our approach to the wellbeing of our staff to support them in their roles.”

She added that the “unprecedented” times brought by Covid-19 is a “challenging time for policing."

“However, our officers and staff remain committed to keeping the public safe," she said.