Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Service releases suspension costs

Service Managers will inform Essex Fire Authority members at their meeting next week that suspension costs over a five year period amount to more than £820,000.

However that sum is largely attributable to an extraordinary event, surrounding the police investigation into historical allegations of abuse.

At the request of the Crown Prosecution Service no internal inquiry work can take place within Essex County Fire and Rescue Service until the conclusion of prosecutions surrounding the case. A number of ECFRS staff have been on long-term suspension in relation to this matter.

The figures will be made public on Wednesday in papers released ahead of the Fire Authority meeting where they will be discussed.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: "The impact of that investigation and the limitations on the Service in being able to resolve matters internally is demonstrated by the fact that 83 per cent of ECFRS' suspension costs in the last five years are related to the Police investigation.

"The Service hopes that these matters will be drawn to a close in the coming months and internal employment matters can then be addressed. To have done so earlier would have hindered the Police in their work and jeopardised any prosecutions.

"ECFRS takes any decision to suspend personnel very seriously and suspension is always a last resort.

"The payments are not at additional cost to the council tax payers of Essex since they were budgeted salary costs but nevertheless absence is costly to any organisation and therefore remains a key focus of performance management for the Service."

Note to editors: The Service will be making no further comment.

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