Police Scotland officers have carried out more than one million hours of overtime, new data has revealed.
A freedom of information request obtained by the Scottish Conservatives show that officers worked 1,074,454 hours of overtime in 2021/22- which is the equivalent of 123 years.
This is more than double the amount of extra work taken on by police in the previous year, and represents more than three percent of total hours worked.
It comes after officers in Scotland rejected a revised offer following the latest round of pay negotiations with the Scottish Government.
Officers represented by the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said that it was an “unanimous” decision and have warned that the dispute will escalate if they do not receive an improved offer by August 5.
Police have stated that they will no longer work over time unless asked to do so, and will charge for any extra hours undertaken in an effort to safeguard officer’s health as many are increasingly suffering with mental health problems.
Shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene has called the figures “shocking” and has called on the SNP to boost police numbers.
He said: “These figures are testament to the dedication our hardworking police officers show to keeping the public safe. I thank every single officer for their service to our communities.
“Shamefully, this hard work they carry out every single day is now being endangered by an SNP Government who have insulted police officers with a derisory pay offer. That has left officers with no choice but to withdraw their goodwill.
“These findings show that is now threatening over one million hours of time that would usually be spent keeping the public safe. It is shocking that the SNP have let their relations with the police hit rock-bottom.
“SNP Ministers should be boosting police numbers to reduce the burden on current officers who are already overworked and stressed, but instead they have let officer numbers fall to their lowest level since 2008.
“Not only have they delivered insulting pay offers to our officers, SNP ministers have also broken their promise to protect police funding in the years ahead.
“That clearly shows keeping the public safe is no longer a priority for the SNP Government.
“The Scottish Conservatives will always prioritise keeping the public safe – which is why we would back the police with the funding and pay offers they deserve.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Overtime is a flexible mechanism which can help to maintain effective policing for all our communities.
“Policing is relentless and the period covered by these figures include Police Scotland’s vital role during the coronavirus pandemic and the COP26 climate change summit.
“Increased absence through the pandemic, training delays due to Covid and COP26, and increased retirals mean officer numbers are lower than they would otherwise have been.
“Right across the country, officers and staff are working incredibly hard to maintain effective policing for all our communities and the organisation is deeply grateful for all their hard work. It is important our people are rewarded for work in line with their terms and conditions.
“We are prioritising support into our Contact, Command and Control (C3) Division, into our response capability and into public protection and we are actively recruiting officers now, with a supporting campaign in place.”
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