Belfast Telegraph

Third of PSNI officers injured on duty this year: Street disorder blamed for shocking number of front line police hurt

By Colin Breen

Almost a third of all front line PSNI officers have been injured on duty so far this year, the Police Federation has claimed.

The new figures show record injury levels in the force which was criticised recently for the number of sick days taken by officers.

Up to the end of October, the number of injuries on duty stood at 1,267 and is set to reach a new high by the end of the year.

The bulk of these injuries are the direct result of street disorder surrounding parades and varying organised protest gatherings by both sides of the community.

In the same period, the number of shooting incidents totalled 43 - already two more than 2013. The number of bombing incidents has almost halved at 41, but recent attacks have shown that explosive devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated and lethal.

PFNI chairman Terry Spence said: "These figures are a stark reminder of the day-to-day pressures our officers are under.

"There's a misconception that a job as a police officer is no different from a job anywhere else. What people forget is that when you're a police officer, you're a target. You're a target for dissident republicans who want to kill you. You're a target for thugs engaged in street violence, and you're a target whenever you intervene to help a drunk or break up a brawl."

Earlier this week it was revealed that police officers have taken almost 113,000 days - the equivalent of three centuries - off sick this year.

Up until October 6 this year, 2,600 officers were absent. That equates to one out of three of the PSNI's 6,800 strong personnel.

But Spence says the statistics which reveal the number of officers injured explains the sickness levels.

He said: "I'm surprised by these latest figures that we've obtained, but it goes to show why sick leave figures are so worryingly high.

"Officers unable to avail of annual leave and rest days, together with having to work for long periods of duty in a stressful environment, are more vulnerable, and that needs to be borne in mind by politicians.

"Too many of our officers are being injured. While they receive treatment, other officers have to fill the void which, in turn, places added pressure on them and, of course, their families.

"We don't have sufficient numbers to do the job, and I expect the number of injured officers to increase as budget cuts take effect. I welcome a debate around all of the relevant facts that go to contribute to high injury and sick leave rates, but it has to be rational and not reduced to a handy sound bite for the media."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph