Cleveland Police may be the force with the most days lost through sick leave for mental health reasons.

But all police forces are ­suffering, as the Sunday People today reveals a total of nearly 500,000 days off work.

For the public that means a thin blue line stretched even thinner.

For the officers themselves, it represents thousands of personal struggles as they succumb to years of budget cuts which have seen 20,000 colleagues lost.

The public these brave men and women protect must understand the tremendous pressure that puts on those protecting them.

Cleveland Police had a trimmed back force after high numbers of officers took sick days
Cleveland Police had a trimmed back force after high numbers of officers took sick days

Boris Johnson’s pledge of 20,000 more police officers is welcome. But that only replaces the ones the Tories have already got rid of. The PM must go beyond that to make a meaningful ­difference to their lives.

Not only do police face the threat of physical violence as part of their day-to-day job, but the Police Federation says officers are also “feeling mentally bruised and battered”.

Politicians expect a lot from those who already give their
all – and it is time they gave ­something back.

Boris Johnson pledged 20,000 more police officers - but it only replaces the ones the Tories cut
Boris Johnson pledged 20,000 more police officers - but it only replaces the ones the Tories cut

That is why the planned Police Covenant, modelled on the Armed Forces Covenant, must not fail in addressing mental health issues the way our fighting men and women have been let down.

It means more Home Office ­investment in mental health ­support, which will be something for Priti Patel to chew over during the holidays.

It means proper mental health training for police chiefs and managers so warning signs can be recognised early.

Cleveland’s appalling record appears to have acted as a ­wake-up call and officers are ­getting more support.

That must now be extended to the rest of the country.

Goodwill to you all

Festive drinkers celebrate the start of the Christmas break on Black Eye Friday
Festive drinkers celebrate the start of the Christmas break on Black Eye Friday

The pre-Christmas tradition of Black Eye Friday was its usual mix of booze, high jinks, low behaviour - and a shiner or two.

The celebrations will continue all weekend, with brits predicted to sink 150 million pints.

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However you mark the festive season, have fun but stay safe.

And the Sunday People wishes each and every one of you a very happy Christmas.