Police should improve organisation to cut overtime budgets

Police forces will be required to better organise their workforces and not rely on officers who work overtime as the government attempts to save millions of pounds on the £6.2bn annual police budget.

Officer overtime costs stood at £413m in 2007-08, and partly stemmed from ‘less than optimal deployment’ or ‘inefficient working practices’, a policing White Paper published yesterday showed.

But the Protecting the Public: Supporting the Police to Success paper estimates that at least £70m could be saved by 2013-14 if forces and police authorities organise their workforces to meet demand and ensure that internal management processes are robust.

The paper also states that if every force reduced the proportion of the workforce in business support functions to below 7% this would save at least £75m a year by 2013-14.

“The government expects to see a significant amount of process improvement and other work to make back office support functions more efficient,” it said.

Other recommendations include improving the deployment of officers and staff to match demand for services and cutting locally-imposed bureaucracy, which includes reducing the number and extent of paperwork and eliminating all unnecessary data requirements.

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Any efforts to tackle bureaucracy are to be welcomed.”

Rob Garnham, chair of the Association of Police Authorities, said: “We are pleased with the White Paper commitment to a less bureaucratic complaints system. This will be a much easier way for people to make complaints and give feedback about policing.”

Home secretary Alan Johnson said: “The White Paper supports the daily hard work and dedication of the police by making clear the entitlements of the public, providing greater accountability and meeting the public’s expectations.”

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