One in nine police on light duties as result of illness and injury
A chief superintendent has said Suffolk Constabulary is ‘doing the right thing by its workforce’ after figures revealed more than one in every nine officers was on light duties.
As of March 31 this year, 120 officers were on recuperative duties following their return to work from illness or injury, while 29 were on restricted or adjusted duties – or limited duties falling short of full deployment.
The figures represented 11.9% of the workforce, compared to a national average of about 8.4%.
Recuperative duties last about six months and cover officers returning from sickness or injury, while adjusted duties are longer term, with officers working full hours and often carrying out more investigative roles.
Chief Superintendent Tonya Antonis, head of People Directorate at Norfolk and Suffolk police, said the officers were typically either returning to work after having been assaulted or experienced mental ill-health.
She said limited duties did not equate to inactivity or inability, adding: “Our focus is on getting them back into the workplace in a supportive way.
“It could be someone who, as the result of a back injury, can’t wear all the protective equipment or carry all the kit.
“While an officer might be unable to drive a response vehicle, it doesn’t prevent them meeting victims, taking statements or supporting an investigation in another way. Those officers will still perform a valuable role.”
Norfolk and Suffolk police work in partnership with Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing to provide round-the-clock support for staff and officers with post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and complex mental ill-health.
Suffolk has also made use of the Trauma Risk Management system used in the armed forces.
Ch Supt Antonis said: “We work closely with medical practitioners, and we recognise the importance of taking a phased approach.
“Telling someone to go straight back to the same role could have a significant impact.
“That would have been less of a consideration, historically, when we didn’t have the same awareness around mental health.
“It’s in our interest to have a healthy workforce. Anyone being off work is a concern, of course. Ideally, I’d want everyone to be there, but I’m confident we’re doing the right thing by our workforce with the support provided to our officers and staff.”
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