Covid-19: More than 9% of PSNI officers absent from work

By Paul Lawlor
BBC News NI

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More than 9% of police officers in Northern Ireland were off work because of Covid-19 at the start of the week.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said 649 officers, amounting to 9.2% of all police officers, had either tested positive or were isolating, as of Monday.

A further 148 police support staff were also off work.

Police said emergency measures were in place and staff absences had been "planned and prepared for".

'Emergency shift arrangements'

In December, police moved to emergency shift arrangements to ensure core services could be maintained.

The arrangements mean police officers are now working in 12 hour shift patterns to cover absences.

"The service moved to emergency shift arrangements in late December to ensure sufficient capacity and capability to maintain all our core service levels and keep communities safe across Northern Ireland," a spokesperson said.

"We all have a part to play in keeping safe, keeping one another safe and, ultimately, helping to take the pressures off our health service during this challenging time and it is more important now than ever that everyone follows the public health advice."

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said longer working hours for officers was "bolstering up the front line".

"Whilst absences place an obvious strain on colleagues, who are experiencing an increasing workload, they are being addressed in a professional manner," PFNI chairman Mark Lindsay said.

The percentage of officers off work is similar to the staff absences faced by health trusts across Northern Ireland.