Chiefs save £1m but force still counting its coppers

Lothian and Borders Police chiefs said the force is working hard to cut its overtime bill
Lothian and Borders Police chiefs said the force is working hard to cut its overtime bill
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CASH-STRAPPED police chiefs have managed to slash more than £1 million from the force’s overtime bill, but the top-earning officer still managed to clock up nearly £21,000 for doing extra hours.

The overtime costs for officers between last April and March came in at £6.4m, a massive drop on the £7.5m paid out during the previous year.

The fall came after senior officers were ordered to carry out “better management” of duty rosters to ensure that junior colleagues were not working unnecessarily.

The overtime costs for next year also look set to fall after the bill for extra hours between April and July totalled £1.6m.

Police chiefs today said they were “working hard” to produce the decreases and called the 2010-11 figures “encouraging”. But despite the reductions, the top ten earning officers for overtime managed to pocket £147,000 between them for the year.

The top ten earners for the previous year netted £154,000 in additional pay.

Councillor Iain Whyte, convener of the police board, said: “The overtime bill is one of the areas where the force has been looking to make savings as we move into tighter budgets over the next few years.

“The less money paid out in overtime means more money is left available to maintain full-time officers on the streets. Saving £1.1m is a very good start and I hope that, with work ongoing on streamlining other areas, we can see further reductions in the future.”

One constable was expected to nearly double their wage after banking £16,820 in overtime on a salary with a starting rate of around £23,000.

The sergeant who topped this year’s league of overtime earners would have a starting salary of around £37,000.

Councillor Eric Milligan, another police board member, said: “I’m in favour of reducing overtime and this reduction shows that the chief constable is managing his resources well. It should not affect levels of police coverage.”

Policing football matches and giving evidence at court are among the duties which typically take officers beyond normal hours. Only ranks of sergeant or constable receive overtime. Police asked to work a bank holiday or rest day with fewer than five days’ notice get double-time, and working a rest day with fewer than 15 days’ notice is paid at time-and-a-half.

A police spokeswoman said: “We have been working hard to reduce our overtime costs within the force and these figures, which show an overall decrease, are encouraging.”

The overtime cutbacks were announced last spring to slash costs following projections that the force faced huge funding cuts over the next five years.