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Norfolk Police sickness rates remain high

PUBLISHED: 07:49 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 July 2010

A tough new approach to targeting sick note officers at Norfolk police has achieved only marginal results.

Last year the force took action to target the number of sick days racked up by officers, including a ban on promotion and second jobs outside the force for those with bad records.

A tough new approach to targeting sick note officers at Norfolk police has achieved only marginal results.

Last year the force took action to target the number of sick days racked up by officers, including a ban on promotion and second jobs outside the force for those with bad records.

Despite this drive the force lost an average of 74 hours per officer to sick leave during the last financial year - the equivalent of more than seven ten-hour shifts per officer.

This was 10 hours less than the average figure for the previous year, but still fell short of a target of no more than 70 hours per officer.

Despite failing to meet the target, the reduction in sick days has brought about savings in the force's budget. An earlier report compiled by chief constable Ian McPherson claimed a 10pc reduction in sick days would slash £310,000 from the wage bill.

The results, reported at the latest meeting of Norfolk Police Authority, followed the introduction of a new policy to curb sickness rates which, in recent years, have been higher than neighbouring forces.

It comes as Norfolk County Council is to set up a working group to look at staff sickness and absence levels in the authority.

Figures show that an average of 9.18 working days were lost in the last year above the target of 8.5 working days.

This figure drops to 8.04 working days when home care and residential care workers are taken out of the figures, but the new administration is keen to investigate why the figures are higher than hoped.

The measures at Norfolk police included placing restrictions on all officers and civilian workers who have been absent on four or more separate occasions in the past year, including limiting access to promotions and preventing them having a second job on rest days.

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

Mr McPherson told the police authority that although the target had not yet been met, significant progress had been made in reducing the total and it was hoped this would continue.

It is though that a few exceptional cases in which officers have been absent to pro-longer periods have distorted the figures.

Civilian staff absences are also falling short of targets. Last year police staff took an average of 61 sick hours each compared to 64 hours the previous year. This is against a target of 60 hours.

Other measures including speaking to everybody who has been absent on five separate occasions and setting up a system to identify problem cases.

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