Police sickness absence rates cost Kent £1.6m a year

Kent Police has defended its absence rate following a report revealing that almost 10% of officers take more than 28 days off sick every year.

The force released figures under the Freedom of Information Act, showing that more than 300 workers were sick for this length of time annually, costing in excess of £1.6m. But Paul Smith, head of health services at Kent Police, told Personnel Today that the number of officers currently on long-term sick leave was 32, representing less than 1% of a total officer strength of 3,436.

It provided a list of the reasons given for long-term absences, including nose bleeds, upset stomachs and ‘general malaise’, along with more serious conditions such as cancer and arthritis.

“What people start off with on a medical certificate is not necessarily what they will end up with,” Smith said.

The force said it had spent about £10m over the past three years as the result of officers taking days off sick. But Smith said the average of 8.7 days per officer was still less than the average public sector sickness rate.

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