This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Overtime: Just Say No

As a police officer, you get double money to work at short notice on a rest day, time-and-a-half for a bit more notice, and time-and-a-third for "normal" overtime.  In many forces, you still get a Special Priority Payment for being a 24/7 response officer, or a custody officer, or various other roles that have unpleasant working hours or conditions.  This can be withheld if your sickness level is too high.

The result of these payments is a queue of people with their hands up to bail the force out on days when the minimum resourcing levels have backfired.  A list of people who struggle in when they are genuinely sick to keep their Bradford score down.  A glut of people volunteering for every operation and to stay on late (pre-planned) to cover for the sickness of other officers on other teams.  There's good money to be had, therefore someone can always be found for the task.  Police officers might be thick but we're not stupid.
Theresa May's pay review will consider getting rid of "double time", cutting the notice required of shift changes from three months, possibly addressing overtime altogether (a move to salary-based pay a possibility???). In return for these changes, which could cut several thousand off some officers' paychecks, yippididoodah: the right to strike.

Unfortunately, in the face of a sub-inflation pay rise for the next few years (effectively a pay cut), the loss of our SPPs - which is now accepted force wide in Blandshire as inevitable - and further cuts to pay and working conditions, the right to strike simply won't cut it.   

At the moment, a Chief Officer can order a police officer to come to work if they are operationally required.  Most forces have a policy of starting with officers due at work later that day, then ones on rest days, then ones on leave, which means it is rare to get called into work when you were on holiday unless something explodes.  But it does happen, and you have to obey. A Chief Officer can also change an officer's shift pattern without permission, including creating a 65hr working week, can alter any shift with 14 days notice to cover absences/sickness, can post an officer to any part of the force within 20 miles (as the crow flies) of their home, and can move an officer to any department with no consultation whatsoever.  A refusal to come into work when ordered, or to work the extra shifts, may result in disciplinary proceedings with the possibility of fines, demotion, etc.

We put up with all of the above because we are well paid when we are inconvenienced.  The combination of the extreme squeeze on resources anticipated by most forces, coupled with the removal of our perks, will not be pretty.  I predict a spate of mobile phone battery outages, plenty of off-duty drinking, and last minute trips abroad on days off, to areas without transport links.

When people describe policing as an unpleasant job, they are usually referring to the blood and gore, the violence and hatred, the possibility of death on duty.  These things set the job apart from others.  Our inability to refuse certain duties or overtime is, however, a far greater burden.  If you stop compensating people for this, you stop recognising its significance.

Police officers don't want this to change.  We want to work in an unpleasant, burdensome job, we are proud of it.  We don't want the right to strike: we want to work and be paid for it.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.


Anonymous Short Caution said...

I agree, with the sudden onset of reluctance to be buggered about,if there is no compensation. My force is considering putting everyone on Reactive uniform, which prompted an experienced DC to say, "why deal with the difficult serious jobs if I deal with shoplifters for the same money?". The SMT do not think like normal people, they are always looking for the next advancement, not considering the consequences for those who will being working in the same environment for years.

06 October, 2010 11:50

Blogger ginnersinner said...

I'm with you!

Just remember to ensure that your mobile number is not listed as your 'primary contact number' on your personal file, and don't have an answermachine on your home number.

06 October, 2010 17:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's OK folks; David Cameron has said today that police targets have gone. Phew, and there was me taking all those demands from the SMT seriously again........

06 October, 2010 17:51

Anonymous Serpico said...

Work does not have my mobile phone, nor my home landline. They will have to send me a letter :)

06 October, 2010 19:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Works both ways Serpico. Many a time have I had to call people in on double time in a hurry - those that left their mobiles or home numbers always got the call first as I wasn't going to mess around trying to trace people when I was pressed for time.
The others whinged, but there was a simple answer.

06 October, 2010 20:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

we will never strike and they know it..

we simply couldn't live with the guilt knowing people's housing are getting burgled because the crooks know there's hardly any, sorry less than the 'hardly any' usual, on the street

06 October, 2010 21:12

Blogger ginnersinner said...

That's entirely the point that Ellie is trying to make though. Take away the reward/compensation for a short-notice RD and people will stop being contactable. You'll have to send a copper round each of their houses if you need them when the bomb goes off!

06 October, 2010 21:15

Anonymous Serpico said...

To Anonymous,
In my years working as a police officer, I have always been offered overtime in advance. My team has never been called in off duty for any occasion during that time. We must be very lucky :)

07 October, 2010 17:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caller display on your phone does wonders, the jobs number usually show no. unknown, easy.

07 October, 2010 19:39

Anonymous Serpico said...

Haha, I never answer unknown/unrecognisable numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a voicemail :)

07 October, 2010 20:09

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Skill sets make your availablity for overtime considerably better, but whilst they are taking money away from overtime they are still paying out money for advertising and Pravda style community leaflets. The finincial situation and the SMT priorities are ridiculous, they will pay for promotional videos from the SMT but they are compromising high crime searches (such as rape, attempted murder/firearms, etc) for the sake of paying for a couple of hours for the team to finish the scene. Jobs are going to start falling apart for the sake of money and bad decisions and we'll get ripped apart at court for it.

The answer to the compulsary call out if you're on a rest day is easy - 1) don't answer your phone and 2) "sorry I'm not coming in, I've been drinking" They can't prove otherwise, and you can't work if you've got alcohol in your system.

07 October, 2010 20:18

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

Great blog this week. Behind you 100%.

I don't think the govt, and individual forces' SMTs, have thought "Will these revised conditions attract people into the force to replace the hundreds of officers who joined in the early 80s and are now retiring?"

23 grand for all the hassle you describe and been treated like something the SMT have wiped off the bottom of their shoe, abuse from the public and putting your life on the line every shift? Not very attractive.

07 October, 2010 21:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can still get overtime authorised?
Here in my force:
"Boss- intel says a load of drugs will be in this address til 11pm tonight, let's get a warrant and nail it!"
"Sorry plod, no overtime allowed. Do your warrant tomorrow when you get on shift at 10am."
"But boss, the drugs'll be gone!"
"But plod, we'll all be in budget..."

08 October, 2010 21:43

Blogger The Blue Light Run said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

09 October, 2010 21:35

Blogger The Blue Light Run said...

I lost my SPP (£1000 before tax) about a month ago. The minimum requirements were to work ten weeks in my role from the last SPP payment (criteria met) and to have a good sickness record (2 days off in the last 5 years). So the job lets me work 9 months fulfilling this criteria, then via an intranet post (not even an email) I'm told my role no longer 'attracts' the SPP and 'most' SPP's have been removed due to budget cuts. Now this won't put me on the breadline but it was very nice to have thank you very much, especially just before Chrismas. If I was in the private sector I suspect I would be able to make some kind of fuss, but given that I am in the public service I just have to grin and bare it. I've been told that I'm lucky to have a job and I agree with that, but I would prefer to kissed before I'm [deleted]...

09 October, 2010 21:37

Anonymous Shijuro said...

I don't get SPP or CTRP (competency, threshold, related, pay).

This is because my role doesn't qualify for SPP and (despite doing the work of three officers at the time) my gaffer decided I wasn't competent...


So, I do a couple of days of OT each month... it helps...

10 October, 2010 22:38

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know what, "F**K IT" I am handing my notice in, 12years to go and I just can't hack it anymore. The street is where I belong and love. I can't take the backstabbing from SMT and HMG.

I have no idea what I'm going to do yet, but it is not an idle threat...............thanks, turn the light out when you leave.

11 October, 2010 14:10

Anonymous Mark said...

Strike you lot?? would we notice would we care??
Most people were i live are more scared of being arrested for attacking a burgler or other low life than being ripped off by one,

13 October, 2010 02:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Would you notice?
I'll let you know when the jury return on the extremely serious offence I have just finished dealing with at court.
Missing witnesses? Last minute defence requests? Last minute prosecution requests? Extra witness summons required? Transport for key witnesses?
Sorry I am on an 8-4 with no OT I'm going home now.
Overtime is not just about response policing.

13 October, 2010 20:10

Anonymous mark said...

Tang0 the extremely serious case??whats that then no seatbelt?
would i notice or care? no.

15 October, 2010 14:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...


would you notice or care?
Hopefully not - but your next of kin might.

16 October, 2010 23:35

Anonymous painauchocolate said...

Mark : "Most people were i live are more scared of being arrested for attacking a burgler or other low life than being ripped off by one"

They should stop reading the Daily Mail then.

17 October, 2010 21:04

Anonymous mark said...

Pain,, I or we dont sorry, My friend coming home from work {night shift} got mugged scum tryed to slash his face but cut his palm instead, my mate got the knife off him and beat about a bit {lot} then called ambo and cops,
My friend ended up in court heavy fine,,,
O yes scum never even got arrested.
Thank you for your time Officer.

18 October, 2010 19:19

Anonymous mark said...

Tang0, you may not like to hear this but not many people think much of the police, daily mail readers or not so not many people care weather you strike or not.

18 October, 2010 19:22

Blogger The Customer said...

I feel sorry for you. It's not your fault but policing is genuinely one of those jobs that is incredibly difficult to comprehend unless you do it (or are married to someone who does!).
You may think that you know what it's all about and are very happy to post comments that are very easy to say but impossible to substantiate but I'm afraid that you are either naive or mis-informed (or both).

02 November, 2010 17:23

Anonymous mark said...

Dear Customer thank you for your mis-informed and naive reply,, im so sorry to have forgotten fools like you still have a blind faith in the police but have no idea what or how they behave to MOPs,,
I do, im sorry to say know what its all about as iv had dealings with the police and i live in a big city,, {lots of fuck ups in a uniform}

05 November, 2010 03:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark has had dealings with the police. Mark does not like the police. Deduction...?

08 November, 2010 02:31

Anonymous mark said...

Anon, and your point?????

11 November, 2010 10:13

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whingers and moaners......I served in three Police forces before I retired this year. Being a Police Officer is not a job it's a vocation. How can you cheerfully discuss ways of trying to "beat the system" when the probable outcome will result in more victims of crime.
I joined the police because I wanted to do something good for society, and nothing annoyed me more than whinging whining "uniform carriers"....the canteen lawyers.

21 November, 2010 09:57


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