Police officers in South Yorkshire have banked 7,500 days off work which they are unable to take because of the reducing number of bobbies in the county.
The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, revealed the figure to demonstrate the impact Government funding cuts are having on officers.
South Yorkshire Police chiefs have shed 600 posts since 2007, and Police Federation representatives claim colleagues left behind are suffering the consequences.
Police officers get ‘rest days’ factored into their rotas as part of their shift patterns but, with a smaller workforce than ever before, police chiefs are having to regularly cancel days off to meet demand.
Earlier this month days off were cancelled when the English Defence League held a national rally in Rotherham. Over 1,000 officers from across the county and neighbouring forces were drafted in to help keep the peace in an operation which cost around £500,000.
Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said police chiefs may have to review what the force deals with in the future because of the reducing number of officers now employed.
“Members of South Yorkshire Police, up to the rank of Chief Inspector, are owed over 7,500 rest days - normal weekly days off that have been cancelled,” he said.
“I have raised this with the Chief Constable. He is concerned, and we are, in the process of negotiating how to deal with this problem in the future.
“The issue is though, we have lost 600 officers since 2007. Crime may be falling, but all the other demands on policing have increased and South Yorkshire’s population is ever increasing. Sooner or later decisions will have to be made about what the police stop doing.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “The wellbeing of all officers, including the ability to take leave, is a key consideration when planning for and responding to the dynamic policing environment in South Yorkshire. However, we also have a duty of care to keep our communities safe that, on occasion, necessitates the cancelling of leave to provide sufficient and, where appropriate, specially trained staff to manage a huge variety of challenges.
“Policies have been introduced to ensure outstanding leave is taken within an appropriate period of time, and that any welfare needs relating to wellbeing are addressed.
“Providing sufficient numbers of staff trained with the right skills at the right time requires constant review. A number of mechanisms, including close dialogue and liaison with the Police Federation and staff associations, are in place to support this.”