PCSOs could be given more powers to try and convince them to come to work.

Police community support officers in Essex averaged 16.8 days off sick in 2013, more than double the target and among the highest in the country.

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh is considering allowing PCSOs to detain people and investigate minor crime in a bid to cut the force’s sickness rates and make them a bigger part of the policing team.

He said: “There is a distinction between PCs and PCSO but I want to explore increased powers such as minor investigations and fines.

“I want them to feel better and give them greater credibility.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said: “They don’t feel sufficiently part of the policing team and they should do.

The PCSO absence rate in Essex has risen from 6.1 days in 2008 to 16.8 days now - and was at an all time high of 19.2 days in 2012.

In other counties concerns were raised when the rate hit ten days of average ansence.
Absence rates for police officers are also high in the county and rose to 12.6 days in 2013 leading

Mr Kavanagh to publicly rebuke his officers in October last year.
Rising absence rates have coincided with falling numbers of officers and PCSOs who are picking up the strain.

In 2010 there were 3,606 officers. This has fallen to 3,236 and is expected to drop to 3,000 in the near future.