CASH-STRAPPED police have increased overtime payments to officers despite being forced to make cuts, new figures show.
Northumbria and Durham police have both increased their overtime spending over the last two years amid cutbacks to services to save millions of pounds after the Government reduced funding.
Both forces defended the increase in overtime pay, claiming they there was a surge in high-profile events, serious cases and murder investigations to deal with.
Northumbria’s overtime pay increased by nine per cent over the last two years.
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.”
Durham Police said a spate of murders over the last two years was partly to blame for its 5.9 per cent increase in overtime payouts.
Assistant Chief Officer 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 to 2011, compared to six in 2008 to 09, so that could partly explain the increase.”
Figures from the 48 forces across the UK revealed that Northumbria and Durham were two of just six who increased their spending on overtime pay.
The others were Northern Ireland, Gloucestershire, West Yorkshire and Staffordshire.
The Home Office set out to cut police overtime two years ago to reduce costs.
A review into police pay is examining whether overtime should be replaced by a fixed allowance, but the police argue that overtime helps with flexibility and with response to emergencies.
The latest figures for 2010 to 2011 show overtime payments overall in all forces have fallen by one-fifth to £382million over the past two years but have increased in the six forces.
The amount of cash each force spent on overtime payments was not released.