MORE than 700 Covid-related absences have been recorded within Forth Valley Police Division since the start of the pandemic.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to Police Scotland revealed that staff have been absent 714 times due to coronavirus within the whole of the C Division between March and December in 2020.

Reasons for the absences included sickness, a need to get tested or self-isolation as part of contact tracing activities.

According to quarterly figures from the end of 2020, the Forth Valley Division has a "total resource complement" of 634 police officers, including CID and public protection units.

They are supported by various staff, whose coronavirus absences are also included in the figures.

Figures relating specifically to the Stirling command area were not available.

The wider Forth Valley division show officers have been mostly affected by Covid–19 during the initial months of the pandemic in March, April and May when 135, 148 and 79 absences were recorded, respectively.

In stark contrast, absences related to coronavirus dropped to their lowest in July, with only eight recorded.

The second wave of the virus is also visible in the data tables, with a sharp spike occurring into October.

A record level of 157 Covid absences was recorded then, compared to just 38 in September.

The exact number of hours lost in policing to the pandemic were also sought.

The response to the FOI explained that the exact number of working hours could not be calculated as officers and staff members do not necessarily work the same number of hours in a week.

However, a past Freedom of Information request from 2017 has previously indicated that community officers tend to work eight-hour shifts while CID officers and custody sergeants work between nine or 10 hours at a time.

Calculating with eight-hour shifts the 714 absences could amount to 5,712 hours if full shifts were missed.