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Combine figures show days off for general illness and stress have soared

Combine figures show days off for general illness and stress have soared

West Yorkshire Police officers on the beat

West Yorkshire Police officers on the beat

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter

The number of sick days taken by West Yorkshire Police officers is on the rise, figures have revealed.

Days lost to sickness among officers in 2013/14, to March 21, stood at 26,838, compared to 25,904 for the previous year and 23,440 for 2011/12.

Civilian staff in the force had 18,966 days off sick in 2013/14, which was well down on the previous year but slightly higher than for 2011/12.

The combined figures – revealed by West Yorkshire Police in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Telegraph & Argus – showed that sickness levels had fallen from 47,361 in 2012/13 to 45,884. But they were 4,000 higher than in 2011/12.

The figures showed the number of officers or staff on long-term sick leave, where they were off work for more than 28 days, had soared from 379 in 2012/13 to 470 for the current year.

The number of days lost to stress or depression fell from 3,917 to 3,771 for officers – though the current figure is more than 500 higher than for 2011/12. Civilian staff days lost to stress or depression plunged from 5,858 to 3,574 over the two years.

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said the total sick days for officers worked out at around five per year per officer, which was not excessive.

He said: “West Yorkshire Police has a very robust attendance management programme. It is very keen on getting officers back to work as soon as possible.

“Given the nature of the job that police officers do, the risks they face, and the excessive hours they often work; one day off every two and a bit months, for whatever reason, doesn’t sound a lot. I would be interested to see how many days are lost due to injuries suffered while on duty, as opposed to general illness.”

Mr Smart said the figures might be affected by officers being more confident at reporting stress and mental health issues.

“A lot of officers do feel stress. If officer numbers are reducing and the workload is increasing, it isn’t much of a leap to suggest there is a correlation between the two.

“A lot of factors impact on sickness. It doesn’t seem to me that officers are milking time off sick.”

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