One hundred Cleveland Police staff are off sick every day.
Chief Constable Mike Veale told the Safer Stockton Partnership meeting the level of absences was a “source of shame” after outlining some of the dire pressures his officers had faced.
He added: “We have got the equivalent of 100 officers off sick every day – 25 police staff and the equivalent of 75 officers.
“Why? because the health and well-being approach is not as I would expect and as I want it.
“The stress, pressure and scrutiny on our officers and staff is intolerable on occasion because of some of our stretched resources – it gets to you.
“There are facing chaos, carnage, violence and domestic incidents within our communities. It takes its toll.”
Cleveland’s top cop told the panel it would take “significant investment, care and compassion” to reverse the levels of absence and stop people being off sick in the first place.
He added: “My job is to look after them and protect them – that’s a huge and significant challenge to the force.”
Chief Con Veale started the top job at Cleveland Police in January after joining from Wiltshire Police.
He told the panel there were moments when he’d walked into Cleveland Police headquarters with next to no officers to send out on jobs.
“There are times I don’t know how we survive and maintain the services we provide,” added Chief Con Veale.
“There have been occasions when I’ve walked into the control room in Hemlington and at Ladgate Lane and we’ve just run out of resources.
“A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning there were no resources to send out.
“That was a challenging day but that should never happen in modern day policing.”
Absences come amid a backdrop of Cleveland Police going from having 1,724 full time front line officers in 2010 to having 1,257 in 2018.
Work is being done to change the structure of neighbourhood policing in Cleveland – with an overhaul of technology and the police control room underway.
However, the chief warned some of the problems the force faced would take a lot of time and effort to sort out.
“This comes with a health warning. If you think Mike Veale is going to save the world you are mistaken,” he added.
“Some of the problems are really deep-rooted and generational. It’s going to take a long long time to reshape and reorganise to get us to a place which will satisfy me.”
And given the the number of staff he had, Chief Con Veale said he “would not make false promises”.
He said: “There are not enough police and officers and PCSOs to deal with the demands we are facing. All we are doing it touching the edges because there are not enough officers out there.
“However good you think I am, I am not a magician. But whatever limited resources I have got, I’ve got to have them in the right places to make sure we are providing a better service and getting more people back to work.”
Alex Metcalfe , Local Democracy Reporting Service