Exclusive research by Telegraph shows at least 800 officers across England and Wales have stress-related conditions.
Nearly 800 police officers are off work on full pay due to stress-related sickness, costing the taxpayer millions of pounds a year, it can be disclosed.
The Telegraph can reveal 787 officers are currently signed off for stress across 35 forces in England and Wales.
It means the taxpayer is funding a wage bill estimated at more than Â£550,000 a week for officers who are suffering stress-related illness, at a time when the total number of officers has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years.
The true number of officers off with stress will be far higher â€“ possibly more than 1,000 â€“ because eight of the 43 forces in England and Wales failed to provide data under the Freedom of Information Act.
One of the most significant findings of the survey was that smaller, largely rural forces have some of the highest proportions of officers off work with stress.
The highest sick rate was in Derbyshire, which reported 30 officers were signed off with stress, amounting to 1.64 per cent of their total number.
It was followed by a large metropolitan force, West Midlands, with 1.58 per cent.
And the third highest proportion was in rural Bedfordshire â€“ the fourth smallest force in the country â€“ which reported 1.56 per cent, or 17 of its 1,092 officers.
In comparison, the Metropolitan Police â€“ by far the biggest force in England and Wales â€“ reported 101 officers were off with stress, amounting to just 0.33 per cent of their total numbers. Greater Manchester Police, the second largest, had 71 off with stress, or 0.99 per cent of their 7,200 total.
Experienced police constables earn Â£36,500 a year meaning the wage bill for the 787 officers would be just under Â£29 million over a year, or Â£552,000 a week. Many officers earn much more, with the pay scale for a superintendent rising to Â£72,585 a year.
However, the true cost to the taxpayer is impossible to estimate because there are no figures on how long each officer has been off sick.
Budget cuts have seen the total number of police officers fall by 16,000 since the Coalition came to power, according to official figures published last month.
There were 128,350 officers at the end of September 2013, a drop of nearly 3,500 in 12 months and the lowest number since September 2002.
A spokesman for the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: â€œThe unprecedented cuts to the police service have meant that officers are under more strain now than ever before, with 16,000 officers having been lost in the last three years.
â€œOur members are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources and while they have risen admirably to the challenge it is inevitable that the increased pressures theyâ€™re facing will have an impact on their health and wellbeing.
â€œThe Police Federation is working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the College of Policing on measures to combat officer stress and played a key role in the introduction of new flexible working guidelines.â€
Phil Mason, Derbyshireâ€™s head of human resources, said: â€œWe are surprised that our stress-related absences are higher than other police forces as we do benchmark overall absence with other forces and there has been no indication that our absence levels are significantly higher.
â€œDerbyshire Constabulary offers all staff a full confidential care employee assistance programme which includes counselling and emotional support. We offer referrals to our Occupational Support Unit to assist officers with stress-related conditions, recovery and a return to work plan.â€
Latest figures have also shown the number of community support officers in England and Wales has fallen by 859 year-on-year and police staff by 1,300.
Last week it emerged that police forces could be forced to pay out millions of pounds in compensation to former officers who have won age discrimination claims after being forced to retire.
A ruling on test cases brought on behalf of 250 officers found that five chief constables improperly used police regulations to get rid of the officers on age grounds.
Taxpayer picks up bill for hundreds of police officers signed off with stress
Also reported here - Figures reveal 800 police officers are off sick with stress in England and Wales costing the taxpayer Â£29m a year.