Overtime is Killing Our Officers!
Let me start my latest blog with an exaggerated statement.
If you can interpret and believe everything that you read in the press, then you could quite easily believe that the United Kingdom is going to run out of Police Officers. Why? Because they all work too much overtime and will suffer from heart disease as a result.
And “Where is this terrible [but exaggerated] news coming from?” I hear you ranting at my blog….from the respectable BBC:
- The Independent Centre for Crime and Justice Studies reported that spending on Police overtime has risen by 90% over the past decade, and topped £400M in 2009 despite the number of employed Police Officers rising by record amounts, thus telling me that there’s a lot of work to do and Officers are working many hours outside their shifts
- Just a few days earlier, the European Heart Journal reported that those who work three-to-four hours a day in overtime are 60% more likely to develop heart disease as a result…and many Police Officers may fall into this category
So if point two is true (and let’s not forget how perspectives can sometimes change over time because in 2000 it was reported that working overtime, albeit limited to an hour per day, was good for you) then there is a need to reduce regular Police overtime. No surprise there. But it must be achieved without affecting front-line services.
Neither of those however are the real point of my blog which instead is about my surprise towards the Government’s plan to cut the overtime bill by £70M, that’s 17.5%! I am surprised by this number. Why? Because it seems too low. Products exist that improve the planning of shifts within the Police by designing shift patterns and optimally adapting these to meet the demands of modern policing. And when combined with the Emergency Response Centers (such as 999 in the UK, or 911 in the USA), there is enterprise-wide shift planning and scheduling to consider that improve overall operational and cost efficiencies. It’s not just a case of cutting costs; it’s about cutting these through instigating organizational change and improving efficiencies. Cutting the budget alone is insufficient.
How do you think policing would be affected by removing budget only and not improving the way that the service operates? Is it possible to make Policing more efficient?