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Huge number of cancelled rest days 'not the new normal' says Met

But data and Fed cast doubt over the claim
Published - 06/06/2018 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

A massive backlog of cancelled rest days is not “the new normal” one of the Met’s most senior officers told politicians today.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt was asked at the London Assembly about the huge backlog of owed rest days, officially estimated to be just under 190,000.

He said that 2017 was an “extraordinary year” with three terror attacks and the Grenfell Fire, as well as a rise in violent crime which led to more crime scene guarding.

Labour’s Andrew Dismore asked him if the new violent crime taskforce was reliant on using officers on rest days.

AC Hewitt said: “I would be lying if I said we’re not under pressure because we’ve been under pressure now for a considerable period, with just the sheer tempo of operational activity that’s required, but to suggest that the work the taskforce is doing is reliant on cancelled rest days is not true and again I know there’s been stories around loads of leave being cancelled […]

"There are times when we need to do it because of the job we do but it’s not a routine thing.”

Mr Dismore said: “So that’s not the new normal?”

AC Hewitt replied: “No it certainly is not. It’s something we bear down on repeatedly.

“Our people need to get time off, they need to have time to defuse from what they’re doing at work it’s not sensible for us to burn people out.”

But the figures show the force has been operating with a huge backlog of rest days for years. Police Oracle revealed that in 2016 the Met owed officers 179,969 rest days, and a year earlier the Met Police Federation claimed there was 500,000 days owed – dating back to Olympics duties.

The staff association branch’s current chairman Ken Marsh told Police Oracle: “At the moment we’re sitting on about 200,000 cancelled rest days.

“I can’t see that going down any time soon. It’s all well and good saying it’s not the new normal but for example we have Donald Trump arriving on our shores soon which will need officers so they’ll cancel rest days as that’s what they do.

“If a major incident takes place next week and they need officers they will cancel rest days.

“I’m not criticising management, they haven’t got enough officers.”

He pointed out that officers who have earned the maximum holiday are entitled to 31 days annual leave plus bank holidays but that with boroughs allowing no more than 10 per cent of officers off at one time that it is mathematically impossible for everyone to take what they are owed.

“Then the Home Secretary says I’ve put another 1,000 officers on the streets of London, well you’ve actually called 1,000 officers’ rest days,” Mr Marsh added. “It’s increasing sickness, it’s increasing mental health issues.”

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