Belfast Telegraph

£25m: Annual cost of sickness leave in PSNI

By Lindsay Fergus

Absence due to sickness is costing the PSNI £25m per year, with an average of 423 officers off sick every day, it has emerged.

That figure is just £5m less than the cost of sick leave across the entire Northern Ireland Civil Service.

The details were revealed to Policing Board member Brenda Hale, in response to a question tabled to the Chief Constable.

She also learned that between April 1 and September 30 this year 766 police officers were subject to an 'unsatisfactory performance' process relating to absence.

The DUP MLA for Lagan Valley said: "The headline figure that sickness absence is costing the PSNI £25.1m is very concerning.

"At a time when the Chief Constable is highlighting the budgetary pressures that he faces, it is vital that he tackles the problem of sickness absence within the PSNI."

As of November 27 there were 107 civilian police staff on sick leave while there were four times as many police officers off (481).

When asked to comment, a PSNI spokesman said a response would be issued at today's Policing Board meeting.

The PSNI met the Policing Board last month and agreed to provide a monthly absence report.

According to those figures, between April and October 32% of police officers were sick and 28% of its civilian staff.

In that period 873 officers had been off work for more than 28 days and 236 of its civilian staff.

However, the average working days lost for police officers were 8.2%, and 8% of those were attributable to injury on duty.

Mrs Hale said: "There will always be sickness, and particularly for front-line officers, high levels of absence increases overtime costs to cover this leave and it also puts a great deal of extra pressure on already busy officers.

"To put the costs in context, sick leave across the whole of the Northern Ireland Civil Service between 2010 and 2011 cost a total of around £30m whilst in the PSNI the annual cost is currently estimated at £25m.

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