Recent reports would have you believe that officers are raking it in with overtime (Guardian). The realities of contemporary policing mean that overtime is a necessary evil. An evil in two ways, first the obvious cost, the second, the lost time that officers will never get back – time away from family, friends, time away from gatherings, events, school plays.
We must accept that perhaps as an organisation when times were good, money was thrown away in order to deal with problems and that we were lax in its management. The focus is now firmly on overtime and ‘robust’ scrutiny is now daily business.
Policing is not a profession where you can simply down tools at the end of your shift, you cannot simply leave the scene of an incident, the scene of an accident, leave an investigation part way through, or leave your prisoners waiting in custody. How would this look to a member of the public, “Sorry I’ve got to stop you there, as you tell me about something important that is affecting your life - it’s the end of my shift, bye”
Overtime maybe the answer to save some of the examples above, from impacting upon the oncoming shift. Overtime may be the answer to providing value for money, officers continuing with something rather than trying to explain it to others. Overtime may be the answer to providing customer satisfaction, officers don’t need to leave half way through, and the response to that member of the public is not delayed as shifts change over.
Every night over the last set of shifts a member of my team has remained on duty past their finish time, so that they could finish an investigation, or were booking prisoners in to a custody suite that has now moved across the city, or were babysitting a mental health patient awaiting assessment. These officers did not want the overtime, they did not want to stay on duty, they did not want the money, they simply wanted to get back home to spend time with their loved ones, or to fulfil the commitments they had made in their social life (That they were going to miss, again!).
Yes officers may be making large amounts of money from overtime, but from my experience these are few and far between. You must look at what role these officers perform and if you look closely it may well be that their overtime does actually represent value for money......http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/19/metropolitan-police-sergeant-top-overtime?INTCMP=SRCH