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Police back unpleasant task bonuses

Police chiefs today defended the award of bonuses to officers who have to perform "particularly unpleasant" tasks.

The payments recognise when the work being done can try even the toughest emotional and professional resolve, said the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The Mail On Sunday said new details about the payments of £50 to £500 made it clear that unpleasant tasks usually related to dealing with dead bodies.

In a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Suffolk Constabulary said it may include "handling of a badly decomposed body, dealing with an extremely difficult fatal road accident or investigating an extremely unpleasant offence or incident", the newspaper reported.

Thames Valley Police expects to pay out £1,000 in the current financial year for workers who have to handle corpses, and £45,000 to officers and teams who carry out demanding or important work as well as unpleasant tasks, the newspaper added, while S outh Yorkshire paid out £2,700 in 2011-12 for unpleasant work.

Robert Oxley, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Bereaved family members and friends may find this particularly macabre at a time when they will be under incredible pressure. This is a very difficult part of the police officer's role, and it is vital that the right support is in place, but throwing bonuses at the problem isn't the solution.

"Ideally officers affected by this should have someone to talk to, not simply a few extra pounds in their bank account."

ACPO's national policing lead for recognition and reward, Thames Valley's Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood, said: "Even within policing there are some tasks we have to do which are particularly outstanding in their nature and which even the most experienced of police officers can find emotionally draining and challenging.

"There is a small proportion of such cases, but even the most seasoned of officers deserve some recognition for particularly unpleasant tasks, tasks which can include for instance; searching a decomposing body or removing fatalities from a particularly distressing scene.

"These bonuses are not designed to reward officers for merely doing their day-to-day jobs, but to recognise when the task at hand can try even the toughest emotional and professional resolve."

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