ANNUAL leave has been cancelled for almost all South Yorkshire police officers over the summer – with around 130 a day set to be called on to police the Olympic Games.
Police chiefs have put a seven per cent cap on the number of officers who can take time off work between July and September, leaving those with children unable to take family holidays while the youngsters are off school.
Officers are to be sent to London to back up the Metropolitan Police during the Games, with the mounted section, motorbike wing and close protection officers among those already briefed.
British Transport Police has also asked for extra officers to help them police the rail network during the Games.
Final numbers have not yet been agreed, but the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said around 130 at any one time could be expected to travel anywhere in the country, with events including football matches held all over the UK.
They could also be called on to help police the route to be taken for the Olympic Torch relay up and down the country.
South Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Neil Bowles said officers would be needed for the Olympics, European football championships in Poland and Ukraine and to police Robin Hood Airport.
He added: “Then of course we need to police as usual, be there when the public of South Yorkshire needs us on a day to day basis.
“Since London won the bid for the games seven years ago, South Yorkshire has lost over 400 officers.
“In order to make the required resources available South Yorkshire Police has used a number of options, including putting a seven per cent cap on the number of officers on annual leave at any one time, in comparison to the norm of about 14 per cent, and up to 20 per cent in the summer.
“Policing is a very stressful job and takes its toll on officers’ physical and mental health. Officers, like everyone else, need quality time away from the workplace to rest and refresh themselves. The extended Olympics period of course coincides with the schools summer break, so the chance of officers with young families getting their usual leave entitlement in the nine week restricted period is thin.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “A cap on annual leave has been placed on officers and operational police staff while we await final mutual aid requests from venue forces. ‘‘