NI: Injury on duty schemes for PSNI and prison officers to cost over £500m
Over £500 million is set to be paid out to former police and prison officers who sustained injuries while on duty through schemes which require “substantial changes” to remain sustainable.
A new report from the Northern Ireland Audit Office reveals that the injury on duty schemes for officers in the PSNI and the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) has seen costs soar in the last five years.
The scale of claims in Northern Ireland is significantly greater than in England, with the Policing Board receiving an average of 12 claims per week.
There was £33.9 million spent by the PSNI and £2.3 million spent by the Prison Service in relation to the schemes in 2018/19. The total liabilities have been estimated at around £488 million for the PSNI and £53 million for the Prison Service.
Auditor General Kieran Donnelly CB said: “Substantial changes are necessary if the schemes are to be affordable in the future. The current review of the Prison Service scheme should be joined by a similar, fundamental review of the PSNI scheme.
“Both reviews should provide clarity on the aims of the schemes and how these will be accomplished and how appropriate checks and balances can be established.
“The end to end process for the PSNI scheme needs to be simplified and streamlined with reconsideration given to the respective roles of the PSNI, the Policing Board and the Department of Justice. In the interim, the public bodies involved should take action to address the most urgent issues.”
Changes to legislation will be necessary to ensure that the schemes are efficient, affordable and controlled properly, Mr Donnelly added.