Police Scotland officers worked one million hours overtime last year, figures show

Police officers worked more than one million hours of overtime last year – more than double the figure from the previous 12 months, new data has revealed.

A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservatives found Police Scotland officers worked 1,074,545 hours of overtime in 2021/22 – 3.1 per cent of all hours worked during the year.

This compares to 464,049 hours of overtime worked the previous year, which was 1.3 per cent of all hours worked.

Scottish Police Federation (SPF) general secretary Calum Steele said any service that needed to rely on overtime to survive was “clearly under resourced”.

Police officers worked more than one million hours of overtime last year

The figures have emerged as police officers remain locked in a dispute with the force over pay, with the SPF saying the “good will” of staff has been withdrawn.

This means officers have refused to start shifts early and no longer take radios home – but Mr Steele said this week it would be “foolhardy” to lay out what other tactics would be employed.

The federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, recently rejected a “derisory” 3.4 per cent pay increase.

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Jamie Greene said the overtime figures showed the “dedication” of police officers.

“Shamefully, this hard work they carry out every single day is now being endangered by an SNP Government who have insulted police officers with a derisory pay offer,” he said.

“That has left officers with no choice, but to withdraw their good will.

“These findings show that is now threatening over one million hours of time that would usually be spent keeping the public safe. It is shocking that the SNP have let their relations with the police hit rock-bottom.

“SNP ministers should be boosting police numbers to reduce the burden on current officers who are already overworked and stressed, but instead they have let officer numbers fall to their lowest level since 2008.”

Mr Steele said: "Claimed and paid overtime is but one small indicator of the sheer level of additional work performed by officers.

“Beyond overtime claimed for payment, officers also work additional hours for time back.

“These numbers, however, do not show the tens of thousands of additional hours provided through the sheer good will of officers which were simply never claimed before.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “Policing is relentless and the period covered by these figures include Police Scotland’s vital role during the coronavirus pandemic and the COP26 climate change summit.

“Increased absence through the pandemic, training delays due to Covid and COP26, and increased retirals mean officer numbers are lower than they would otherwise have been.

“Right across the country, officers and staff are working incredibly hard to maintain effective policing for all our communities and the organisation is deeply grateful for all their hard work. It is important our people are rewarded for work in line with their terms and conditions.”

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