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Police forces defend overtime rises

Senior officers in a number of police forces have sought to defend their increased overtime spending in the last two years, despite Home Office attempts to cut the bill.

Durham, Northern Ireland, Gloucestershire, Northumbria and Staffordshire saw overtime rise, although the sixth, West Yorkshire, disputes the figures presented by the BBC after a Freedom of Information request.

The Home Office has long sought to cut overtime costs by replacing it with a fixed allowance. The police argue that policy, advocated both by the previous Labour government and the Coalition, would reduce flexibility.

Figures show that overtime payments across all UK police forces fell by about 20% over the last two years, although the six forces in question have seen a rise.

Explaining the rise at his force, Assistant Chief Officer of Durham Police, Gary Ridley, said: “There's no one single reason to which this increase can be attributed. Overtime fluctuates from month to month and year to year, depending on operational requirements.

“However, we did have 12 homicide investigations in 2010-11, compared to six in 2008-09, so that could partly explain the increase.”

Northumbria’s Assistant Chief Officer Steve Culkin said: "Last year there were some high profile and unprecedented incidents. We always endeavour to ensure that, even in challenging circumstances, we are mindful of the cost involved and ensure cost effectiveness."

And Gloucestershire’s Assistant Chief Constable Kevin Lambert said: "Our overtime spend did reduce last year compared to the previous year. We are committed to making reductions in spending in a way which does not impact on front-line policing."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland attributed its rise to an increase in terrorist incidents, while West Yorkshire Police argues its figures for overtime have actually gone down, and Staffordshire Police did not respond to the BBC’s investigation.

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