Belfast Telegraph

PSNI union: it will be public that suffers if overtime cut

Mark Lindsay has warned officers are straining under pressure
Mark Lindsay has warned officers are straining under pressure
Yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The PSNI is "creaking under the pressure" because of a shortfall of 800 officers, the head of a union that represents rank-and-file officers has warned.

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, Police Federation chair Mark Lindsay added that if officers cannot work overtime then it will be the public that suffers as the force would "fall short" of what is required.

Yesterday this newspaper reported that Chief Constable Simon Byrne is facing a rebellion from his officers over plans to make them work on their days off as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Under Mr Byrne's plans, officers would be required to work on their rest days with the promise of a day off in lieu some weeks later in an effort to clamp down on overtime.

The shake-up is due to take effect from next month.

The most recently available figures, covering the 12 months of 2017, show £45.5m was spent on overtime - equivalent to £124,730 a day.

Mr Lindsay, however, believes that overtime is an under-resourced police service tool and is a necessity that must be used if an organisation has to react to changing challenges.

He writes: "Of necessity, hundreds of officers undertake overtime duty simply because the PSNI is under-strength.

"Surges in police activity have to have resources and, inevitably, that will incur overtime or rest-day working.

"Without overtime, the service provided to the public by the PSNI would fall short of what's required. Operational failings would not easily be forgiven."

He went on to say that the current 6,700 officers currently operating in the PSNI is "wholly inadequate", adding that the welfare of officers must be considered when changing their time off.

Mr Lindsay also said that Government ministers must be made to realise that the PSNI is in dire need for additional financial resources. He added: "If it is denied this (additional resources), then the rate of burn-out and workplace and family pressures will increase. It is as simple as that.

"Overtime, therefore, is a symptom of a wider ailment. It masks structural weaknesses and, if not recognised as a priority, they will impact negatively on service levels the public have a right to expect."

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