§ Ms Blears
All police forces have been set the objective of reducing sickness absence levels.
The Strategy for a Healthy Police, which was launched in October 2002 supports this objective through funding, guidance and best practice in managing sickness absence and attendance.
All forces in England and Wales, were allocated a share of £4 million in 2002–03, and then £5 million in 2003–04 and the current financial year. They have been able to focus this extra resource on projects aimed at reducing sickness absence.
Sickness absence figures have improved since the launch of the Strategy, with overall sickness absence now at a national average of 10.4 days per officer per year, and 11.7 per support staff member. This has decreased from 12.2 days per officer and 12.6 days per support staff member when the Strategy was launched. The best performing forces have continued to make improvements, but the gap between best and worst performers has also significantly narrowed.
The Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary annual report for 2003/2004 sets out the national and force rates for sickness absence per force.