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The bill for sickness absence at Staffordshire Police smashed through the £2 million barrier last year - as nearly 60 per cent of frontline officers and PCSOs called in sick.
Figures from a Freedom of Information request show that in 2016 a total of 14,762 days were lost due to sickness - the equivalent of 40 years - at a cost of £2.1m to the public purse.
It means that 15 per cent more force work days were lost than in 2014, while the taxpayers’ bill went up by a quarter over the same period, .
The Police Federation described the figures as ‘unsurprising’ given the increasing pressure put on officers by more complex workloads and budget cuts.
Inspector Glyn Pattinson, secretary of the federation’s Staffordshire branch, said: “With funding falling, the force is being put in an impossible position and an increase in sickness levels is inevitable.”
The figures show that in 2014 the force’s sickness bill for frontline staff and PCSOs was £1.6m, but by 2016 it had risen by 25 per cent.
Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis said the increase in the number of sick days taken was a direct result of officers dealing with bigger workloads.
“I think that the time has come to rethink police budgets,” he said.
“Although sickness rates are still below the national average, Staffordshire Police has had a really difficult couple of years and people are getting tired and worn out.
“I have no doubt that the reason why six in 10 people have had some time off is related to the fact that they are having to do an awful lot more with fewer and fewer people.”
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "Policing is a physically demanding and stressful job and therefore absences are often as a result of injuries sustained during duties.
"We are continually looking at ways to improve, including efficient ways of working and reducing absences."
The number of frontline officers at Staffordshire Police dropped to 1,688 between 2014 and 2016, a fall of four per cent.
The force has lost around £30m from its budget in real terms since 2010.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced £7.5m for a new National Police Welfare Service to complement support provided by individual forces.
Express & Star