Figures obtained by the country’s leading defence lawyer have exposed the shocking extent of sickness levels amongst the country’s police forces.
A Freedom of Information request on behalf of Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, revealed that in one relatively small force alone – Gwent – the total days lost last year through sickness were a staggering 34,254!
In 2016, tax payers in Devon and Cornwall were left picking up a sick note bill just shy of £4m, whilst in the area patrolled by the West Midlands force, this was an eye watering £14.4m!
Gwent and Greater Manchester would not divulge the cost of sickness in their forces, but Mr Freeman estimated it be £1.2m for the former and £14.7m for the latter.
The figures show that the combined days lost in 12 months for four forces – Gwent, Devon & Cornwall, West Midlands and Greater Manchester – was 235,110 days – or 644 years!
West Midlands Police also revealed that 1,099 of a total head count of its 6,662 police officers and PCSOs – 16 per cent – were classed as “long term sick”.
A Freedom of Information Request answered by The Met Police earlier in the year revealed 198,414 days – or 543 years – were lost through police officer and PCSO sickness in the financial year ending in November 2016.
The problem was illustrated last week by Northamptonshire police, who tweeted that, because of sickness, the front office at their Wellingborough Police Station would only be open from 10am until 3pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!
Other headline figures revealed from Mr Freeman’s FOIs revealed that:
- 70 per cent of Devon and Cornwall officers and PCSOs reported sick in the last 12 months
- 97 per cent of Gwent officers and PCSOs reported sick in the last 12 months
- 66 per cent of West Midlands officers and PCSOs reported sick in 2016
- 56 per cent of Greater Manchester officers and PCSOs reported sick in 2016
- 1,419 officers and PCSOs across the four forces are classed as long term sick
- The cost of sick days to Devon and Cornwall tax payers was £3,832,387
- The cost of sick days to West Midlands Police tax payers was £14,420,894,89
Mr Freeman said: “Month after month we hear that police forces are stretched to the limit, and Chief Constables continually blame budget restraints and a lack of resources.
“In response to this, and as a tax payer who financially supports a force through my council tax, I instigated a Freedom of Information request asking a number of pertinent questions as per sickness levels.
“Whilst we all appreciate that policing is a highly stressful and pressurised job, these figures are nothing short of a national scandal.
“On the strength of these alone, I suggest Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, may want to call an urgent meeting with all her Chief Constables!
“I can confidently say the figures from these forces will be mirrored nationally as they all paint the same picture – an endemic levels of sickness!
“I know there will be many cases where officers are off through genuine reasons, namely injury and stress, but, I suspect a significant number are faking it.
“If every police officer and PCSO reported fit for duty instead of calling in sick, then the country would be more than adequately policed. We would not be short of ‘Bobbies on the beat’ or dedicated traffic officers. And we would see crime figures genuinely reducing.
“The result of this ‘sick’ blue line is that the tax payer is not only being short changed, it is paying a heavy price in terms of crime by these appalling sickness levels.
“I wonder how many self-employed people take time off through sickness? Not many, if any!
“And, on a professional level, we are seeing a rising number of court cases either dismissed or adjourned because of police officer sickness.”
Mr Freeman added: “If officers and PCSOs are being found to be faking it, they should be prosecuted. What they are doing is fraudulent and dishonest.
“I may be wrong, but I don’t believe I have heard one single Police and Crime Commissioner, address this issue. Are they even aware of it? And if not, why not?
“What the country wants, and what the country demands, is a police force fit, not sick, for service!”
Data from Freedom of Information request to Devon and Cornwall Police:
- Total number of officers and PCSOs in 2016: 3,094
- Number of officers and PCSOs reported sick in last 12 months- 2,157 (70 per cent of total number of officers and PCSOs)
- Number of duty days lost last year through sickness- 29,753
- Cost to tax payer – £3,832,387
- How many police officers and PCSOs are classed as long term sick – 81
Data from Freedom of Information request to Gwent Police:
- Total number of officers and PCSOs in 2016: 718
- Number of officers and PCSOs reported sick in last 12 months- 696 (97 per cent of total number of officers and PCSOs)
- Number of duty days lost last year through sickness- 34,254
- Cost to tax payer – Not revealed. Estimate £1.2m
- How many police officers and PCSOs are classed as long term sick – 46
Data from Freedom of Information request to West Midlands Police:
- Total number of officers and PCSOs in 2016: 6,662
- Number of officers and PCSOs reported sick in 2016 – 4,416 (66 per cent of total number of officers and PCSOs)
- Number of duty days lost in 2016 through sickness- 77,731.83
- Cost to tax payer – £14,420,894,89
- How many police officers and PCSOs were classed as long term sick – 1,099
Data from Freedom of Information request to Greater Manchester Police:
- Total number of officers and PCSOs in 2016: 7,405
- Number of officers and PCSOs reported sick in 2016 – 4,182 (56 per cent of total number of officers and PCSOs)
- Number of duty days lost in 2016 through sickness- 93,372
- Cost to tax payer – Not revealed. Estimate £14.7m
- How many police officers and PCSOs are classed as long term sick – 193
About Freeman & Co.
Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.
Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.
The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.
Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.
The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.
If you are facing a road traffic matter or criminal offence and need the services of Freeman & Co. please call on 0161 236 7007.
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Freeman & Co Solicitors
8 Oxford Court
Tel. 0161 236 7007