News In Focus
Crown Office sick days jump over last two years
The number of sick days taken by staff in the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service has jumped to well above the civil service average for the past two financial years, new figures show.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives following a freedom of information request show that whereas the lowest number was recorded in the 2013-14 financial year at 13,326 days' absence over the year, in 2014-15 this leapt by nearly 22% to 16,210 days, with 2015-16 absences only slightly down at 16,019 days.
Before 2013-14, days lost through sickness rose from 13,426 in 2010-11 to 14,228 in 2012-13.
The latest two years' totals each represent more than 10 working days lost per employee, compared with 7.7 days in 2010-11 and 8.5 days in 2013-14. The civil service average is 7.2 days.
Holyrood's Justice Committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into the efficiency and effectiveness of COPFS, including resourcing. The Conservatives said the figures “add further weight to calls for COPFS to receive more support as the volume and complexity of criminal cases increases”.
Legislative changes had been made without sufficient thought to their impact on the prosecution service, and with more people coming forward to report sexual offences, there were more complex cases requiring “days of preparation”.
Next year COPFS's budget is to be cut by more than 1% to £111m.
COPFS said the figures included a small number of staff with serious long-term health issues, and that the vast majority of absences were not linked with work-related stress.
“Staff welfare is of the utmost importance and welfare and support systems are in place to help staff deal with the demands of their role”, a spokesperson said.