A BRAVE police officer says colleagues are leaving the force due to the strain on their mental health.

PC Ian Luxford, from Fontwell, is taking on a 900-mile charity bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise awareness of mental health issues for emergency services on the frontline.

He has been on the force for 11 years, having served as a community support officer (PCSO) before becoming a PC.

The 49-year-old said: “I often see colleagues who are just getting snowed under, going off sick and struggling to cope with the job and leaving the force completely.

“It’s a job they used to love but they have decided enough is enough.

“I have witnessed first hand how all emergency service workers have struggled with mental health due to the cuts in funding.”

PC Luxford, a father of two, was awarded a divisional commendation in 2017 for talking down a suicidal man from a bridge.

He said that awareness of mental health for frontline officers has improved in recent years. It is a lot more accepted that people are struggling, and it will happen,” he said.

But he cited examples of police officers taking their own lives across the country as examples that show help can sometimes be too late.

“That could happen to any one of my colleagues quite easily,” he said.

PC Luxford was inspired to join the force by his father, who reached the rank of chief inspector.

He originally signed up as a PCSO, and said: “Something about it appealed to me.

“I generally love the job, but it is becoming harder and harder to love the job.”

The officer will be taking on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain event, which starts today.

He is raising money for the Confidential Blue Light Info Line, a telephone line to support those working in the emergency services with their mental health.

PC Luxford started cycling four years ago and has completed the London to Brighton ride but admits the nine-day challenge will be more taxing.

He said: “I am excited, nervous, and scared about the ride.

“I think it will be challenging and painful at times, riding 100 miles each day.

“But it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.

“It was on the bucket list of things to do before I’m 50.

“Raising awareness of mental health has become more and more of a priority.”

To keep up to date with his progress visit www.ianluxford.co.uk.