Hero Hartlepool cop stabbed by a knifeman lays bare the issues Government ministers must not ignore

PC Mick Johnson with his Best of Hartlepool award
PC Mick Johnson with his Best of Hartlepool award

No-one joins the police force for an easy ride.

When you sign up for a career protecting the public, it is by its very nature a stressful and, at times, confrontational occupation.

If your not dealing with criminals, you are dealing with people who have been victims of crime or you are busting a gut to prevent more crimes being committed. Shrinking violets need not apply.

The force needs people who run towards, not away, from danger. It needs people of character like PC Mick Johnson.

He tackled a knifeman while trying to rescue a shopkeeper and suffered a knife wound for his troubles. PC Johnson was honoured for his bravery, but now feels compelled to speak out as a Police Federation survey lays bare the concerns of its officers on the font line.

Almost 90% say they are under-staffed with 79% experiencing stress and anxiety in their jobs.

PC Johnson suffered psychological issues after the attack before being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The incident changed him as a person, but the pressures on the force caused by under-funding and under-staffing have affected his professional life too.

He says: "I have been on this unit since 2009, and it has shrunk from 18 to 20 officers down to about 10.

"It's incredibly frustrating not being able to do the job that I still love. I joined to help people and catch criminals and prevent crime, but I spend most of my time dealing with concerns for safety."

His words back the deepening concerns of the Police Federation and the public at large.

No-one said a career in the force would be an easy ride, but the obstacles being strewn on the road by this Government are making the journey for our police impossible for many serving officers.

And if the police suffer, the community suffers too.