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Concerns over part-time officers

Published 22/04/2015

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris expressed concern over the part-time officers
Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris expressed concern over the part-time officers

Police in Northern Ireland have warned more than 100 part-time officers who have not worked their required hours that their jobs could now be at risk.

Last year, 113 of the PSNI's 462 part-time officers failed to complete their required 144 hours a year service - with 30 of those not turning up at all.

Commanders have written to the officers, warning their contracts could be terminated if they fail to provide an adequate explanation for not completing their stipulated number of shifts.

The move is part of a shake-up of how the PSNI manages its part-time complement of staff.

The service is now giving local commanders the power to detail part-timers to work certain shifts, rather than fitting them in when they indicate availability.

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said the PSNI needed to get better value for money from part-time officers.

"At the moment 113 officers have not fulfilled the full quota of their hours," he said.

"We have written to them to ask for an explanation, but at this moment in time we have put them under notice that they have failed in terms of their contract.

"But we will go through a process in terms of considering what their circumstances have been and what their explanation is before we make any further decisions around their future employment as a part-time reserve."

While 30 officers are recorded as having completed zero hours, there are a number who have fallen just short of the 144 hours required.

The age profile of the part time officers, who have all the warranted powers of a constable, is higher than full timers - with a number having retired from other jobs. Unlike the full-time workforce, there are more female part-time officers than male, with a ratio of 60:40.

Even if the contracts of a number of the 113 are terminated, the PSNI has no immediate plans to recruit any more part-timers.

So the total number employed could well drop. The figure has fallen steadily from around 1,500 part-time reserves 20 years ago.

Mr Harris said the PSNI needed to be able to use the officers when they were needed, rather than when they were available.

"We want to use the part-time reserve more in a surge capacity - around major incidents, public order and also at the weekend when we have a real need for officers visible out on the ground, particularly around the night-time economy," he said.

"We need to be able to detail officers rather than they volunteer for the duties they are prepared to do.

"We are always concerned about providing value for money. This has been an issue over the last number of years, we have attempted to address it locally - now what we are doing is taking a corporate approach.

"It is public money so we are always under an obligation to ensure we are using it wisely and ensuring value for money."

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