A BRAVE police officer has revealed how he nearly reached breaking point after being haunted by the trauma of a murder scene.

PC Ian Buckman suffered from undiagnosed post traumatic stress (PTSD) for years before seeking help from Sussex Police for his mental health.

He said he suffered flashbacks from the incident that would replay in his mind, affecting his family life.

Speaking to Channel 5 News, the officer of 13 years described how he had to take two months to recuperate earlier this year.

The broadcaster revealed that the number of mental health issues among officers has soared by more than 60 per cent in the past few years.

PC Buckman told the broadcaster: “I started experiencing flashbacks, which felt like a video replay on a constant loop.

“It was through the chaos of the scene that I attended, it wasn’t the bloodshed or the visual horror of the scene, it was the noise, and the chaos of it.

“I didn’t tell anyone I was having flashbacks, not even anyone at home. I was not really there in my head, it affected my work and my mood.

“It definitely took a toll on family life, I became quite moody, quite snappy, tired, irritable and taking it out on the wrong people... my wife, my daughter, my parents.

“At Christmas last year I literally came to breaking point before I did anything about it.

“Between that Christmas and New Year time the flashbacks had just become so bad, I was having no sleep, eventually I did speak to a colleague.”

The officer took two months off work, underwent counselling and is now back to full duties after a slow return.

Research by Channel 5 News revealed the number of days missed by officers across the country rose by 69.4 per cent between 2013 to 2014 and 2018 to 2019.

It meant forces were having to cope with more officers on sick days.

The figures show there were 390,608 sick leave days for mental health issues last year, compared with 230,631 five years earlier.

But PC Buckman said work is being done to improve the help on offer to officers.

Sussex Police has the Backup Buddy UK application which helps officers find the right help for their mental health needs.

The PC returned to work after two months away. He said: “It has become easier, a lot of work has been done... the work that’s been done around Backup Buddy UK has assisted in breaking down those barriers

“There’s more demand for officers to be single crewed, which puts an additional pressure on people. Assaults on police seem to be ever increasing, I’ve been assaulted myself twice in the last four months.”

Sussex Police said: “As an organisation we are aware how demanding a role in the police force can be and our officers are frequently asked to put themselves in situations that most people would shy away from.

“We, like many others working in blue light services, are very good at caring for others but have, in the past, forgotten to care for our own staff in the way we should.

“In recent years we have introduced a significant number of schemes and support mechanisms so our officers and staff can get the support and guidance they need.”