NI police get tough on their sick absentees

The HR director of Northern Ireland’s police service has announ-ced measures
to boost recruitment and reduce sickness absence, in response to a surge in
sectarian violence which has stretched resources to the limit.

Last week, a report by Tom Constantine, the person monitoring police reform
in Northern Ireland, highlighted problems facing the force, including sectarian
rioting, organised crime and high levels of sick leave among officers.

Joe Stewart, who took over the role of senior director of HR last year, said
the service has just outsourced civilian recruitment to Grafton Recruitment in
a bid to attract more civilians for backroom tasks to free-up officers.

He stressed that any recruitment drive is limited by the requirements of the
Patten Report, which specified that all new recruits are split 50/50 between
Catholics and Protestants. A recent recruitment campaign for 200 positions
filled 58 even though there were 260 suitable applicants, because only 29 were

Stewart said the service is attempting to tackle high absenteeism rates but
he revealed that 30 per cent of officers on sick leave had suffered injury on

A proactive campaign will also examine all cases of significant absenteeism.
Where necessary officers will be redeployed to non-front line jobs.

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