SOUTH Yorkshire Police pay more in overtime than any other force in the country, it has been revealed.
The county’s police authority, which oversees the way the police force is run, made the announcement in a report discussing ways in which the annual bill could be reduced.
It said the police authority has to be confident that police chiefs have plans in place which can reduce the amount of overtime they need to pay without reducing the level of service offered to the public.
Although the total amount spent on overtime payments for police and civilians fell by £592,000 last year the force still paid more than any other force in the country.
Last year the police authority set a target to reduce overtime by five per cent but they managed a 9.6 per cent cut for the total paid to officers – but overtime payments for civilians rose by 15.5 per cent.
The police authority said a group set up to discuss overtime looked at the 20 police officers and civilians making the highest claims last year compared to the year before.
It said systems are now in place to monitor individuals to ensure their ‘work-life balance was not excessively compromised’.
The group has also discussed the possibility of putting a cap on overtime payments but fear it could affect performance if staff in overtime-heavy roles, including detectives, were not able to claim for all hours worked.
Chief Constable Med Hughes said: “Paying overtime allows us to police effectively and provide a great value service.
“It’s not surprising we have one of the overtime spends as we have fewer officers per head of population than virtually all other urban forces.
“If we were funded as well as Lancashire or Northumbria for example, we would have over 300 officers more, so we use our overtime proudly to deliver reduced crime year on year.
“Crime is at its lowest for many years, but we recognise we need to cut our budget, and this is one area of savings.
“The force has been reducing spending on police officer overtime as part of its cost-cutting measures.
“Nevertheless we welcome proposals, both locally and nationally, to help to continue to reduce our overtime bill, providing a more efficient service and giving people value for money.”