England

Avon and Somerset Police staff sickness rates blamed on budget cuts

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Sickness rates among staff and officers at Avon and Somerset Police are rising due to budget spending cuts, the Police Federation has said.

A Freedom of Information request showed since 2010 staff absences has cost a total of £4.1m with 844 staff off sick.

Insp Kevin Phillips, from the federation, blamed added stress on diminishing number of officers.

The force admitted the time taken off sick had gone up but said staff absence rates have remained constant.

'Worst parts'

Insp Phillips added: "This is very much the tip of the iceberg, I don't think we've got the worst parts at all.

"What you've got to look at when the last government were in power the numbers of polices officers in Avon and Somerset were around 3,407 and in 2017 we are anticipating 2,512 [police officers], we can't keep going on like that."

He added that the remaining police officers had increased workloads and were doing more overtime.

Director of resources for Avon and Somerset police, Julian Kern, said the numbers published for 2009-10, which showed 42 officers off sick and then a large jump in 2010-11 to 93, was due to the way the figures were recorded.

"The figures from five years ago were recorded very differently.

"In 2010 we moved on to a sophisticated recording system and in those four years, and they're the better ones to monitor the overall levels of stress-related sickness, average around 200 staff and officers. They haven't gone up significantly."

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