To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland took a career break in each of the last five years, broken down by grade; how many of those involved have since returned to work; what the Police Service of Northern Ireland's policy is on career breaks; when it was last reviewed; and if he will make a statement.
The current policy on career breaks within the Police Service of Northern Ireland was introduced in May 2006 and is due for review in May 2007. Prior to the introduction of this policy there was no formal facility or policy for career breaks. Police officers could avail of unpaid leave but no figures have been collated relating to this. The number of officers who have taken career breaks under the current policy is 12, of which one has returned to work.
The policy on career breaks is designed to provide a means for police officers who have completed their initial probationary period to spend a period of time away from work pursuing other activities without giving up their career, and can last for between one to five years. While on a career break, officers may not pursue a business interest or other paid employment, or full time education unless it falls within policy guidelines and regulations. Although unpaid, officers retain their salary points and rank and sympathetic consideration is given to officers with regard to returning to their previous post. Should it be necessary, appropriate training can be provided on return.