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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Rise in Cumbria police sickness rates

Sickness rates are up again among Cumbria’s police, with the force missing its illness targets in most departments.

Stuart Hyde photo
Stuart Hyde

Figures show officer and civilian staff absences for the three months up to April have climbed compared to both the months before and the same point last year.

This means the force has had to pay out more than £520,000 in wages to officers who were off work ill and more than £172,000 to other staff absent in this period.

Sickness rates for detectives at the force’s CID department and officers working from its headquarters near Penrith did come in below the set target.

Cumbria’s chief constable, Stuart Hyde, revealed the results in a report to the watchdog monitoring the force.

A similar report three months ago named an ongoing cost-cutting shake-up at Cumbria police as a potential factor in the rise at that time – and the possibility of this having an impact is mentioned again.

Mr Hyde revealed the percentage of available contracted hours lost to sickness among officers stood at 4.52 per cent during the last three months.

This was up on 3.93 per cent for the three months before and 3.14 per cent on the quarter before this.

The increase for officers across the force’s three command units in the north, west and south of the county is put down to a rise in long-term absences.

One in three officer sicknesses are due to muscular or skeletal complaints, 13 per cent are said to be psychological and 11 per cent down to breathing illnesses. A number of people who were absent during these months have since returned to work, the report adds.

Mr Hyde said: “Some staff are experiencing long-term conditions and are under the care of the NHS.

“Other absences are related to a variety of medical conditions.”

Sickness rates among civilian staff for this period stood at 4.28 per cent of available contracted hours.

Mr Hyde says a range of measures are being taken to address any problems.

The report will be discussed by a committee of Cumbria Police Authority at a meeting on Thursday, being held at the force’s Carleton Hall headquarters.

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