Home Office under fire after suggesting more police ought to be 'fighting crime, not filing paperwork'

They revealed that out of 129,449 officers in England and Wales, 4,694 were on restricted duties

Ian Johnston
Saturday 19 December 2015 23:04

The Home Office has come under fire after claiming that some police forces have too many officers on “restricted duties” and “the public expect police officers to be fighting crime, not filing paperwork”.

Police representatives attacked the Government, saying it had misinterpreted the figures.

The Home Office revealed that out of 129,449 officers in England and Wales, 4,694 were on restricted duties, which can mean doing office work. It also revealed separate figures for officers on “recuperative” duties as a result of being injured in the line of duty or illness. Three forces did not provide figures.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The public expect police officers to be fighting crime, not filing paperwork on restricted duties. Of course, those injured in the line of duty need medical leave to recuperate. But these figures show that in some forces, one in 12 police officers are off on restricted duties for non-medical reasons. That cannot be right, and the fact some forces fare much better shows that it is perfectly possible.”

Essex Police had 9.1 per cent of its officers on restricted duties, followed by Bedfordshire on 7.9 and City of London on 7.1, while the figure for Humberside was just 0.5 per cent.

But Steve White, the chairman of the Police Federation, said the Home Office was wrong to claim all officers on restricted duties did not have a medical reason.

Police force policy documents support his claim. For example, Dorset Police says an officer can be placed on restricted duties if they have a “recognised medical condition that prevents them from undertaking full 24/7 shifts”. One police insider said officers with cancer could be placed on restricted duties.

Mr White said the “vast majority” of officers on restricted duties had a medical reason. He also said the Home Office was wrong to suggest that there were “a lot of malingerers who don’t want to do the work of a police officer”. Mr White said he knew of an officer who investigated child sex abuse for 15 years before becoming a chief constable’s staff officer on restricted duties because he simply “couldn’t do it any more”.

Matthew Horne, Deputy Chief Constable of Essex Police, said it accepted it had “too many [officers] are unavailable for full duty”. “We are currently reviewing officers subjected to permanent medical restrictions and we will, where appropriate, challenge the medical view as to their fitness,” he said.

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