NI police and prison service absence costs more than £46m

Sick leave for police and prison officers in Northern Ireland has cost almost £47m in the past two years, official figures reveal.

This includes £40.4m for police absence and £6.3m for prison staff for the two-year period, although police absence levels have fallen from £22.4m in 2004-5 to £18m last year

John Dallat, MP for east Londonderry, called for harsh penalties for those who abuse the system.

“While there does need to be some compassion and an offer of help where it is needed, they are in a situation where they can be measured against other sections of the civil service,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“If they don’t come up to the standard, then there have to be harsh penalties, including dismissal.”

A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland police force said: “Attendance levels are a key organisational issue. We have attendance policies which we have plans to revise to ensure they are fit for purpose and to further deliver increased attendance.”

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