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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 12:39 GMT
Court defends police sick policy
Police sick leave record has been worst in the UK
A High Court judge has defended the tactics used in a crack-down on sick leave by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Mr Justice Kerr dismissed an application for judicial review brought by an inspector who challenged new regulations that barred her from applying for promotion.

The regulations, which came into operation in February, state that officers absent from duty more than 14 days a year are ineligible for promotion unless they can provide a good reason.

Northern Ireland's police force changed from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in November.

'Record worst in UK'

Mr Justice Kerr said in 1992 the average period of absence from duty through illness was 14 days a year but last year the figure had risen to 22 days.

"The absence from duty through illness record of the RUC has been the worst in the United Kingdom," he said.

The problem was so bad that a sickness management policy was recommended by the Inspector of Constabulary "to provide a clear corporate lead to reduce sickness levels across the organisation".

The judge said in those circumstances he was satisfied it was necessary for the police service to devise a scheme to manage absences from duty on grounds of illness and to reduce the substantial level of such absences.

Hundreds of police promotion boards, which have been held up pending the outcome of the case, will now be able to go ahead.

See also:

16 May 01 | Northern Ireland
NI absenteeism costs 250m a year
28 Jun 01 | UK
The art of the 'sickie'
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