Police staff working rest days to cover riot workload

12 August 2011

Civilian staff and community support officers in the Metropolitan police are working on their rest days to cover extra work as a result of the riots in London.

While annual leave will be honoured, staff have agreed to join their police colleagues in coming in on their days off until next Tuesday, 16 August.

The measures cover all staff in the Met from PCSOs out on the streets – at least three of whom have been injured in recent days – to those who work in 999 call centres, crime analysts and forensics teams.

The urgent need for staff has been exacerbated by the fact that 6,000 of the Met's 34,000 police officers are currently doing office jobs – PCS estimates around 4,000 of these jobs were done by civilian staff in the past.

The unions were not initially consulted on the plans but we have since met management and ensured: a clear time period is given on the need for cover and that it will be subject to ongoing review; personal circumstances will be taken into account; and that overtime will be paid or time off in lieu offered.

This commitment by PCS members is against the backdrop of cuts to the Met police workforce that have seen 1,000 civilian jobs go in the last year with at least 500 more in the pipeline.

Related: Workers facing cuts staff riot courts

Staff, who joined the strike on 30 June in their hundreds, are also subject to the public sector pay freeze and facing planned cuts to their pensions that mean they will be forced to pay more and work longer for less in retirement.

PCS acting group president Mike Rigby said: "There is a large number of police officers who are usually in offices who are now out on the streets.

"Pulling those officers out has shown that the Met hasn't got enough civilian staff, so we're having to work on rest days and do overtime.

"The nature of the job is that something like this could happen at any time, you can't predict it. There are a lot of police out in communities at the moment, but that won't always be the case."

The Met has issued health and safety guidance to police officers about using protective equipment, but PCSOs do not have the same equipment or training so the union is advising PCSOs and civilian workers not to get into confrontational situations. It has also reminded members about the Met's and PCS's welfare support services.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Our members in the Met police, as well as in the courts service and elsewhere, are proving their dedication and commitment to the essential public services they provide.

"As we pay tribute to them, it's a timely reminder that cuts proposed by this government are putting at risk not just their jobs and livelihoods, but these services that we rely on."

PCS in the Met Police

PCS statement on the riots

There is an alternative - economic arguments against the cuts

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