Nottinghamshire Police see surge in sickness rates

Sick leave among Nottinghamshire police officers has risen by more than a quarter, it has been revealed.

BBC Nottingham has found the force had almost 23,000 sick days in 2011, a rise of more than 5,000 on the year before.

It included 77 officers signed off with stress, with the days lost this way increasing by 56% compared with 2011.

The force said the sickness rate had come down in recent months, although the number of days lost specifically to stress was still increasing.

Phil Matthews, chairman of Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said staff and officers were under increasing pressure.

"We have seen a massive drop in police officer numbers over this past year and a massive drop in support staff who do the back room functions.

"The workload of officers has gone up massively over the past year and it's a hard, stressful job in the first place," he said.

'Difficult' conditions

Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request showed 22,847 days were lost to sickness in the calendar year 2011, compared with 17,807 in 2010 and 19,172 in 2009.

The number of officers signed off with stress in the same years were 77, 64 and 57, resulting in 3,296, 1,860 and 1,680 days lost.

However, the force said that in the six months to February of this year, there had been 11,499 sick days, compared with 18,426 in the previous six months.

Nottinghamshire Police's Assistant Chief Officer Margaret Monckton said: "The force was in a very difficult place 12 months ago.

"It was in the middle of a capability review by HMIC [Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary], there was a lot of pressure that staff were under in terms of transforming the force.

"But we have new policies in place and the trend is coming down so we are confident we'll get it where we need it," she said.

The force is having to save £40m by 2015 but has vowed to protect front line policing.

A budget approved last month will see 60 officer posts go through retirement and a recruitment freeze.

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