Long-term sick leave almost doubles in a year among police officers
PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:31 17 August 2020
Long-term sick leave almost doubled at Suffolk police in a year, figures have revealed.
The number of officers absent for at least 28 working days between April 2019 and 2020 increased 80%.
Only four other forces recorded greater percentage increases across England and Wales.
The constabulary said officers were absent from regular duty for a range of reasons, including injuries at work and physical or mental health issues.
The number on long-term sick leave increased from 15 to 27, according to figures up to March 31 – a week after coronavirus lockdown measures took hold.
Long-term sickness includes leave for any recognised medical condition, such as physical injury and psychological condition.
Suffolk officers were the victim of 452 assaults in 2019/20, including 91 resulting in injury.
Workplace health, safety and wellbeing manager, Lauren Soames said the rise was broadly in line with a national trend, adding: “We will always offer appropriate support to officers during their absence, with the aim of making an appropriate and timely return to duty.
“In circumstances where staff are unable to return to front line duties, we do everything we can to assist them through return to work programmes.
“Individuals are supported by their manager, HR advisors and our workplace health team, and we work closely with our unions and staff associations.
“There is also an extensive programme to promote a culture of health and wellbeing to officers and staff.
“Some officers may be off long-term sick for the psychological consequences of assaults they may have experienced. Being a police officer is a tough and demanding role, and we aim to get these officers back to work in a managed and appropriate way.
“It is important that officers and staff talk to the organisation about difficulties with mental health, in order to gain access to the most appropriate support.
“We have a traumatic incident debrief process, an employee assistance programme, and proactive wellbeing initiatives and sessions, as well as the Walnut Tree service, based in Suffolk and Norfolk, that includes immediate and round-the-clock support from their community response team for staff and officers living with post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and complex mental ill health.”
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