Police wage bill down by millions but sickness causes overtime surge

Savings: South Yorkshire Police saving on wages but overtime costs are up
Savings: South Yorkshire Police saving on wages but overtime costs are up

Police are expected to spend millions of pounds less than expected on wages for officers and civilian staff in South Yorkshire, though the costs of paying overtime are already above target – partly because 16 people all doing the same job at the Atlas Court communications centre are off sick.

The costs of providing pay and pensions for police officers is now expected to by almost £2.5m down on projected spending, with more officers retiring and leaving the force than had been forecast when the budget was set, accounting for £350,000 of the savings.

A range of changes account for the rest, including senior officers being transferred into regional policing posts and grant money being used towards paying a superintendent’s salary in one instance. At present, the force is also paying less than expected in unsocial hours costs.

Savings of £100,000 have been made on the budget for PCSOs because a recruitment freeze has been introduced while a review of their work within the force is conducted and costs for police civilian staff are expected to be £2.1m down, because of vacancies and delays in recruiting.

However, overtime for police staff is £200,000 over target, with a report to Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings stating: “This overspend is mainly within Atlas Communications where staff overtime is forecast to overspend.....as a result of 16 dispatch operators currently being off sick and backfill for addition abstractions for Smart Contact training.”

Smart Contact is a new computer system for handling calls from the public at Atlas Court, which was due to go into service this Spring, but has been delayed through technical problems.