One in 10 police on ‘light duties’ – but data more detailed than elsewhere
- Credit: IAN BURT
One in every 10 police officers in Suffolk are currently unfit to perform their full range of duties.
Figures presented to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s performance and accountability panel showed 10.4% of 1081 officers were performing adjusted or recuperative roles that did not require full operational fitness as of the end of 2017. Reasons for duties falling short of full deployment include injury and return to work from illness.
Suffolk had a higher percentage of officers on limited duties than The Met and Merseyside police. Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said that, unlike many others forces, Suffolk included on its list of officers those with the slightest deviation from full duties.
“We’ve made sure there is real accuracy. People are on this list no matter how small the variance.
“Some still remain at the more extreme end of policing, and you wouldn’t believe they’re on the list. For others, it can be due to a mental health condition resulting from violent or tragic situations.
“While it’s OK to look at other forces, I want long-term wellbeing among individuals. Sometimes it’s good to compare, but as long as I know there’s a robust system of support, I know those numbers can actually be minimised.
“We record more, and we record more accurately, because we want our staff to come back fully fit.” Figures show the constabulary is better than average at managing absence, long term absence and adjusted duties, but remains an outlier for recuperative duties, which last about six months and account for officers returning from sickness or injury. While adjusted duties are longer term, officers work full hours and often carry out investigative roles, leaving the fittest on the frontline.
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Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said officers had the heaviest case workload in the country, and that the Home Office needed to “wake up and realise the pressure they are under”.
He said other chief constables were less than straightforward about how they recorded data.
“I have no tolerance of anyone swinging the lead, and we need to get theses numbers down, but there needs to be a methodology that’s common to all,” he said.
Data reflecting the position at the end of 2017 indicated sickness levels had improved, and showed a reduction in staff on recuperative and adjusted duties, with six fewer officers on recuperative duties and nine fewer on adjusted duties compared to August.