Former Home Secretary David Blunkett claims future funding of police forces is so uncertain police chiefs are scared to take on extra staff in case they cannot afford to keep them on in the future.
The Labour Brightside and Hillsborough MP was speaking as The Star revealed South Yorkshire Police paid £7.9 million in overtime last year - including one detective who earned more than £23,000 on top of his normal wage,
Mr Blunkett said: “The problem at the moment is presumably a fear of recruiting because of the severe spending cuts next year and the year after and the difficult of laying off police officers once they’re in post.
“This is a Catch 22 where we need more police on the streets but uncertainty of being able to afford them means that presumably senior management are turning to overtime as a temporary option.
“I hope that the new Chief Constable will be able to resolve this quickly.”
Police Federation chairman Neil Bowles said: “Our overall position is that we would want to see more officers on the streets than pay overtime.
“However even if that £7.9 million were spent on extra officers there will still be a need for overtime.
“Our job is not one that you can stop work at the end of your allotted shift - dealing with a victims of crime, dealing with persons detained and spontaneous major incidents are all examples where overtime is incurred by officers. One cannot just stop doing it and come back the next day.”
Jean Gleadall, aged 77, deputy chairwoman of Wisewood Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “I would like to ask the police where the officers earning this overtime are because we never see them.
“If the police are spending all this money on overtime what are these officers doing? And is it because the force is so short staffed?”
Mick Daniels, 63, chairman of Brushes Tenants’ and Residents’ Association in Firth Park, said: “I believe in having bobbies on the beat but it seems like those days are gone. However if the police are spending nearly £8m on overtime they obviously have money to pay for more officers.”