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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Sickness rate down but Cumbria police still missing target

Sickness rates have fallen among Cumbria’s police officers – but the force is still missing its absence target.

The percentage of hours lost to illness among officers stood at just under four per cent during a three-month period, above the threshold the constabulary aims for of 3.5 per cent. But the statistics, covering between October and December last year, are still down on the previous quarter, where the rates topped five per cent.

A report to the county’s crime commissioner Richard Rhodes states: “Performance has significantly improved over the period.”

Major causes of absence included muscular or skeletal problems, breathing conditions and psychological disorders.

Across the force, 2.23 days were lost on average per officer. The worst offending department was “territorial policing”, which covers uniformed police. It lost an average of 2.39 days per officer.

The figures are contained in a top-level report, due to be discussed by the executive board of the commissioner. The document, from the force’s human resources department, says staff “remain confident that attendance levels will continue to improve”.

It adds: “There is evidence that increased attention to effective case management is paying dividends.”

Action taken or currently proposed includes creating information that is “more streamlined, easily understood, accessible and up-to-date” for managers and staff.

Attendance figures are also, the report says, subject to scrutiny and discussions involving all senior bosses. The meeting is also due to discuss figures on overtime costs for officers.

Payouts up to November in the current financial year, compared to the same point the year before, are down by £260,000 to £813,000.

Much of this is due to lower expense in providing officer cover on bank holidays. The 2012/13 financial year saw the Queen’s Jubilee take place, providing workers with an extra day off.

Other changes in police conditions have also helped cut the payments. The commissioner’s executive board, which includes police chiefs, meets on Wednesday at Carleton Hall headquarters, near Penrith.

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