Police pay the price for protecting public
ASSAULTS in the line of duty forced Suffolk police officers to take a total of 240 days off last year as they recovered from their injuries, according to Government figures
Over the past three financial years there has been a rise of nearly 15% in the amount of sick leave officers have had to take following attacks.
However, Suffolk Constabulary and the county’s police federation stress that although the number of injuries sustained by officers is not necessarily on the rise, it is the consequences of those injuries which has caused the increase.
The number of sick days rose to 213 in 2006/07, dropped a little the following year to 208, before rising to 240 in 2008/09.
Last year’s figures include more than four months which one officer had to take off with ‘skeletal injuries’ due to being attacked.
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A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “The health and safety of our officers and staff is a priority for the constabulary. Whilst we’d like to see no officers assaulted when they are on duty, it is fortunate that the numbers assaulted are extremely low compared to other areas of the country.
“Injuries received range from being minor, such as cuts and bruises, to more serious injuries, such as broken bones. The number of police officer days lost due to being assaulted will vary each year depending on the nature and severity of their injuries.
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“In 2008/9, nine were off for 240 days. In fact around 58% of the 240 days lost in 08/09 related to one officer’s sick leave after they had been assaulted.
“Any officers who are injured are given the full support of the Constabulary’s Occupational Health Unit to aid their recovery and return to work as quickly as possible.”
Suffolk’s police federation said absence due to injuries will normally not exceed nine days.
Chairman Matt Gould said: “It must be remembered that officers engaged on the public facing side of our business can be called upon to work in very dangerous circumstances.
“They are the public servants who move towards and deal with a street fight or tackle violent offenders. It is clear that persons engaged in domestic violence towards their partners, think nothing of offering violence towards police officers sent to deal with such incidents.
“Officers do make every effort to return to work as quickly as possible but are guided by medical practitioners, who have to say whether we are fit to perform our duty in circumstances of conflict and potential injury.
“In Suffolk, there are provisions made for officers to continue to work for the organisation in a meaningful way whilst they are recovering, away from the front line. These include dealing with crime reporting and directing investigations.”