Crackdown on Norfolk police sickness

The sickness levels of Norfolk's police officers have been cut as a result of a clampdown, which included a ban on promotion and second jobs for those with bad records.

The sickness levels of Norfolk's police officers have been cut as a result of a clampdown, which included a ban on promotion and second jobs for those with bad records.

Chief constable Ian McPherson revealed how efforts to tackle the problem had saved 2,500 man hours over the past four months.

Bosses introduced a new policy after the average amount of time lost to sickness was deemed 'unacceptable'.

A meeting of Norfolk Police Authority yesterday heard that officers spent an average of 15.4 hours per head off sick during the first quarter of this year compared to 18.43 hours during the same period last year.


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This brings sickness within force targets for the first time in recent years.

Mr McPherson said: 'When you consider the impact this has had on the number of police hours spent on the ground, this is something we should celebrate.'

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Last year the force overhauled shift patterns, switching to a new system which sees officers receive fewer consecutive rest days. Many had feared the move could increase sickness in the short-term.

Mr McPherson said: 'It comes at a time when we have been going through considerable change and we had perhaps expected an increase. But things are settling down more and more and getting better and better.'

There has also been an improvement in the amount of sick leave taken by civilian staff, including PCSOs, who took an average of 11.17 hours per head compared to 15.3 last year.

The police authority had earlier heard that a 10pc reduction in sick leave would slash �310,000 from the wage bill; the current drop in officer sick time stands at 16.4pc.

The force introduced its tough new approach to tackle the number of sick days racked up by officers, including a ban on promotion and second jobs for those with bad records, last year.

Restrictions were placed on all officers and civilian workers, who were absent on four or more separate occasions in the past year.

Bosses began calling all staff or visiting them at their home within 24 hours of them calling in sick, except in cases when this would be inappropriate.

Over the whole of last year the force lost an average of 74 hours per officer to sick leave; the equivalent of more than seven 10 hour shifts per officer.

Commenting on the latest figures, authority member Brian Iles said: 'This is a remarkable achievement against a background of a complete change in the way we work.'

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