Sussex PCSO sickness levels are 'too high' say police

Sussex Police are introducing fitness tests for newly appointed police community support officers (PCSOs) in a bid to cut the number of days they take off sick.

PCSOs in Sussex have twice as many days off as those in Devon and Cornwall.

Last year they took an average of 12 days off. The force's target is no more than eight sick days.

More than 30% of the absences were down backaches, muscle strains and joint injuries.

Marion Fanthorpe, who is the director of human resources for Sussex Police, said the force will introduce the same fitness tests that it uses for regular police officers.

These will include a running test and a strength test.

'Preventing crime'

"You need to be pretty fit to the job because you're on your feet all day long and in all weathers," she said.

"PCSOs do an absolutely fantastic job, sometimes unseen, preventing crime and working with the local community. They are much valued by the public.

"But [the high sickness rate] puts more pressure on people at work."

The problem is detailed in a report to the Sussex Police Authority, which also states that PCSOs suffer from "poor and inconsistent management".

A lack of career progression was also cited as reasons for low levels of motivation and commitment.

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