Cuts 'will see PSNI sickness levels rise'
Police sickness levels will rise by more than a third by next April, the Chief Constable has warned.
PSNI chief George Hamilton has briefed the government that the projected number of sick days within the PSNI will increase by 34% by next April.
The force is facing budget cuts of up to £80m this year, while crime is on the increase and resources are tied up policing protests, dissident terrorism and loyalist marches.
PSNI officers were absent for an average of 33 days last year.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd told UTV: "We are here to deliver services, but we can't deliver those services to the highest possible standard that we would want unless we have all our people at work.
"We recognise that and we need to prevent it happening and support people getting back to work."
Police Federation chairman Terry Spence said policing was facing a grave crisis if a way was not found to prevent the massive budget cuts. He said untold damage would be inflicted on day-to-day policing unless there was a change of heart. Mr Spence said politicians needed to recognise the appalling extent of the threat.
He added: "What's being proposed is not some tinkering at the fringes.
"It goes right to the heart of policing, from community officers on the beat to the ability to investigate historical crimes.
"Massive impairment would greatly undermine our ability to keep the community safe. In effect, we could be reduced to only responding to 999 calls but rendered helpless to do much else."