2011: Norfolk police lose four decades in sick leave time over two years

Norfolk police have lost more than 40 years in staff time to sick leave in the last two years.

Front line officers took 204,976 hours off due to illness from April 2009 to April 2011, according to figures released in Parliament after a question from Carlisle MP John Stevenson.

When added to sick leave for civilian staff, police employees took 365,381 hours off which amounts to 41 years and eight months.

From 2009-2010 102,775 hours were lost, and this year the figure was slightly down to 102,221, amounting to 3.6pc of all police time.

Each officer takes just over seven days off in sick leave a year, which general secretary of the Norfolk Police Federation David Benfield said was acceptable. He told the EDP: 'I don't think seven days off a year is unreasonable. I think that the figures reflect well on Norfolk Constabulary officers.

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'When you are dealing with confrontational situations or working 24-seven you become more susceptible to getting minor injuries and colds.'

But long-term sickness is also costing the force. Mr Benfield said: 'We have a number of officers who are off long term with cancers. When you take into account injuries on duties both from accidents and on criminal duties it is not surprising a significant number are long-term absences.'

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Civilian staff took 73,221 hours off this year and 87,164 last year. Just under half of the hours were accounted for by long-term sick leave.

The main reasons behind the sick leave in officers are muscle and bone injuries and psychological problems, according to a report to Norfolk Police Authority.

To bring the amount of hours down the force now has daily reports on absences sent to superintendents from each department and district.

A Norfolk Constabulary spokeswoman said: 'We remain committed to tackling the issue of officer and staff absence.

'The force takes each case of sickness on its merits.

'Some cases, of course, are the result of injuries sustained on duty.

'In all cases however, our occupational health staff work with the individual, their management and representatives to bring about as early a return to work and operational duties as is possible.'

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