Police are boosting their pay with overtime claims of £3.35 million – despite cutbacks and attempts to slash the bill.
The Cambridgeshire force has been criticised after its lead officers launched a “robust” review to cut back on the extra pay.
The cash-strapped constabulary attempted to stop dipping into its war chest for overtime pay in the face of 20 per cent cuts to its budget.
But in the last financial year the bill reached £3,350,000, down just £150,000 on 2010 when the review was launched, data obtained by the News has revealed.
The most overtime paid during the last year to a single officer was £12,886 to a police constable.
Cllr Geoffrey Heathcock, a former magistrate and county councillor for Queen Edith’s in Cambridge, was appalled by the bill.
He said: “It’s absolutely astonishing that the overtime bill is still of this order and indicates that the county force has far too few officers on the one hand and the management of shifts is still needing significant work. The current situation is simply not tenable.”
Ed Murphy, Labour’s candidate to become Cambridgeshire’s first elected police and crime commissioner, said: “As an incoming commissioner I will want to scrutinise the efficiency of using overtime when it may be much better to employ additional staff.”
Deputy Chief Constable John Feavyour defended the force’s record on overtime and said the drive to cut it is back on track after the riots last summer.
He said: “We continue to drive down overtime against ever increasing demands and next year (2013/14) will see a further reduction in the overtime budget.
“In 2010/11 overtime was reduced by more than £760,000 and last year (2011/12), despite the significant impact on overtime as a result of the August disorder, the force was still able to reduce the overtime budget by more than £150,000 compared with 2009/10.
“Since 2010 we have taken several million pounds out of the budget and yet performance is still better than it has ever been, demonstrating the force’s commitment to keeping the people of Cambridgeshire safe.”
The total overtime bill for officers in 2009/10 came to £3,508,706.
The bill had fallen overall in the previous few years from a high in 2005/6 of £5,550,530 to £5,133,339 the following year.
It dropped to £4,237,705 in 2007/8 but climbed to £4,584,085 in 2008/9, figures released using the Freedom of Information Act revealed.