Police officers could be losing out on hundreds of pounds a year because they are not claiming overtime, federation representatives have said.
Many officers are working for free because they know there is insufficient cash to pay them extra, while others are too scared to speak out against abuse by their superiors, it has been claimed.
At the Met, the largest force in the UK, tens of thousands of hours of overtime payments due to officers who have stayed late after their shifts have not been made.
Beyond the first 30 minutes of unplanned overtime, officers are entitled to time and a third. But many are too scared to claim it, according to Dennis Weeks, deputy secretary of the Metropolitan Police Federation, who has described a “culture of fear” at his force.
Half of officers at the Met report having not claimed overtime due to them.
Mr Weeks said: “Officers feel that in the long run they would be treated poorly if they say ‘no’ [to working extra hours without payment] – that they will be given difficult or harsh postings if they challenge or question things.”
But he added that officers are also working for free out a spirit of goodwill.
Mr Weeks said this was the case at the Met, but added: “But this goodwill should not put an officer in a detrimental situation.”
The Metropolitan Police Federation has launched a campaign urging officers to know the Police Regulations and stick to them, to protect them from fatigue.
And officers from other forces have revealed that their goodwill is running thin, and their days of working for free are numbered.
A sergeant from Surrey Police said: “I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve done for free over the years. It all comes down to being professional and committed. Sadly that will has now gone and I claim for everything I’m entitled to. Goodwill pays no bills.”
And a constable from West Midlands Police, added: “I don’t get in early anymore. I get there when I need to and get ready in work’s time – not mine. I never used to be like that, but we’re pushed so much now that’s what it has resorted to. I stay up to date on regulations and stick to them. I’m hard working and do my best, I just don’t do it in my own time or without payment.”
Will Riches, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales’ Central Constables Committee warned that people in specialist roles and CID are experiencing the most pressure.
He said: “Police officers continue to bend over backwards to make it work because that is the way they are. But there is a real question mark over resilience – people will give and give but there has to come a point where there is no more to give.”
In a statement, Thames Valley Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood, ACPO lead for reward and recognition, said: “The financial pressures facing forces has meant that overtime budgets have been reduced and the scrutiny around the authorisation process has inevitably tightened. However, that does not mean that officers should not be recompensed in line with Police Regulations for the overtime that they work.
“If there are genuine concerns about the application of Police Regulations, then I would encourage staff associations to raise these at a local level through regular meetings with chief officer teams, such as Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committees.”
Date posted: March 27, 2014