Belfast Telegraph

George Hamilton: £40m holiday pay bill could have 'massive impact' on policing

Outgoing PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton warned the £40m bill could affect policing
Outgoing PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton warned the £40m bill could affect policing

Outgoing Chief Constable George Hamilton has said a potential £40m holiday pay bill facing the PSNI could have a "massive impact" on policing.

Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled that regular overtime worked by officers and staff, and other additional payments accrued on top of their basic salary, should be factored in when setting their holiday pay rate,

The court ruled that PSNI staff were entitled additional payments going back 20 years, estimated to be around £40 million.

Speaking on the BBC's Nolan Show, George Hamilton warned the £40m bill could affect police performance in Northern Ireland.

"It will have an impact of visibility of policing, on service delivery and how responsive we are," he said.

"We have already taken out £150m out of the baseline police budget in the last five years. I can't see where there's another £40m to come out without having a massive impact on service delivery... The money is going to have to come from somewhere."

In the wake of last week's ruling, it emerged that other public sector bodies are also considering making claims for backdated holiday pay, which could cost the public purse hundreds of millions.

Mr Hamilton also said the ruling could have "massive repercussions" for the entire public sector and Northern Ireland's economy.

He added that the PSNI is seeking legal advice over the ruling and whether or not to appeal it to the Supreme Court, with a deadline for a decision due next Friday.

By that date, the retiring Mr Hamilton will have been replaced by new Chief Constable Simon Byrne, with the appeal decision one of the most pressing matters in his in-tray.

Appearing before the Policing Board for the last time on Wednesday, the outgoing police chief said an appeal would focus on the technical aspects of the ruling - such as the length of the timeframe and how the amended holiday pay rates are calculated.

He also questioned the £40m figure quoted, but conceded the PSNI will be facing some sort of payout.

"We have these headline figures picked out of the air without any calculation or science behind them I think the £40 million is a guess - for all I know it could be more and I don't think they (lawyers) know," he said.

 

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