A POLICE union boss says more should be done to help officers who are taking sick leave because of stress.

Mark Smith, chairman of Essex Police Federation, also said the number of days being lost to stress is probably more than the 30 per cent of absence which has been recorded, for 2013/14.

He said: “Health and welfare has been lacking over the last couple of years.

“I believe 30 per cent is probably below the true figure.

“It is high, but I don’t believe it is the officers’ fault.”

Mr Smith added: “The problem with sickness is that it is a huge issue and there are many factors which influence it.

“I think the foundation for it is the cuts to policing.

“If you didn’t have any cuts, I believe sickness levels would not be this high and that has a knock on effect in many different ways.

“Blueprint and Evolve hasn’t helped at all and some of the shift patterns also don’t help.”

Since Blueprint was implemented, in March 2012, the number of officers has dropped from 3,600 to 3,200.