West Yorkshire Police officer who starred in Channel 5 docuseries to reveal impact of PTSD suffered by frontline workers in new book

A police officer who left the beat as a result of its toll on his mental health is shining a light on the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in a new book.

Pc Ben Pearson. Picture: James Warner

Bradford-born Benjamin Pearson landed his dream job working as an officer in his local police force, West Yorkshire Police, in 2000 aged 25.

Now 44 and a married father of two, Mr Pearson has recently retired from the force last month due to the impact of 19 years of frontline policing on his health.

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Those who have watched Channel 5's Police Interceptors will recognise Pc Pearson, a familiar face on the hit show which documented life on the beat. He has also appeared in several episodes of ITV’s soap Emmerdale and the TV drama DCI Banks drawing on his special skills used in the force.

During his career, he received eight commendations for bravery and outstanding police work, and two judges' commendations for a high profile arrest and helping secure a murder conviction.

But Mr Pearson has now swapped the police baton for the pen for to draw attention to the impact that frontline work can have on the mental health of thousands of emergency service workers.

Some 391 police officers in West Yorkshire Police took time off work due to mental health issues between April 2019 and 2020, the force has previously revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Of these, 17 were struggling with PTSD.

In Mr Pearson's book, Handcuffed Emotions, the former traffic officer recounts receiving abuse from a member of the public in an Asda car park while stopping to get a sandwich after a shift, and having his professionalism called into question when someone brought him a cup of tea at the scene of a fatal collision.

On one occasion, he describes how he ran into a burning building after bystanders told him there was someone inside, only to find out the property was empty and he had risked his life for a practical joke.

"It doesn’t matter the job you are doing," he said, "when you face trauma day after day you confuse what’s real and what’s not.

"Your own reality becomes merged with the reality of the job. Every call to attend a crime scene starts the adrenaline surging. You do not know what you will face."

The book is to be officially released next month, with Mr Pearson asking people to "look past the uniform" and see the person instead.

In it, he also describes how memories of crime scenes and horrific road accidents, as well as losing his parents, led to his PTSD diagnosis.

“I hope my story helps others to recognise what frontline emergency staff go through daily," he added.

"I hope people can see the human behind the uniform.

"I also hope that by me sharing my experiences and stories that I will continue to help others because that’s the main reason I wanted to be a police officer in the first place.”

Handcuffed Emotions – ‘A Police Interceptor’s Drive into Darness’ is released on December 1.