Belfast Telegraph

PSNI unit costs £40,000 a week in overtime bills

By Lesley-Anne Henry

The PSNI is forking out almost £40,000 per week in overtime payments to officers assigned to the Close Protection Unit (CPU), it has been claimed.

The CPU, which includes providing security for members of the judiciary, had been manned by 37 members of the full-time Reserve which was made redundant as part of the Patten proposals on March 31.

Since then however, 37 officers are having to be drafted in on a daily basis from units such as Roads Policing and the Tactical Support Group on their rest days and are being paid overtime rates of time-and-a-half, meaning a minimum average rate of £18.75.

Each officer starts at around 7am and works a 10-hour day, five days a week.

They are also entitled to claim a meal allowance of £7.25 which brings the force’s daily overtime total to £7205.75.

If such sums are sustained, the amount being paid out each month will reach £158,526.5, with an annual total of almost £2m (£1,902,318).

Northern Ireland Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said the current overtime levels were unsustainable and raised concerns over the management of the PSNI departments.

“It is not good management and it is not good to have officers continually working on their rest days,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Spratt, a former Police Federation Chairman, said he believed the PSNI’s senior command team were playing a “smoke and mirrors game” when it comes to resourcing.

The DUP man added: “They told us there was no longer any need for the Full Time Reserve.

“They assured us they had enough officers and that no-one would be taken from frontline service. But, TSG and Roads Policing are front line.

“It really concerns me in terms of TSG because we cannot afford to lose any more with the oncoming marching season.

“It is not sustainable into the future to continue to pay overtime rates. The money simply is not going to be there.

“Again, it is down to senior management who, to be quite frank about it, are being less than honest with the general public.”

Background

On March 31 the PSNI completed the phasing out of 220 full-time Reserve officers.

Over the last decade more than 4,000 regular officers have taken voluntary redundancy, while almost 1,000 members of the full-time Reserve left under a compulsory severance scheme.

It is believed that the cost could increase to half a billion pounds by the end of the scheme.

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