Police forced to go on holiday

Police investigations are being stretched as bosses force their officers to take annual leave. The move is part of a Police Department bid to reduce a $200 million debt of accrued annual leave.

But senior police spoken to by the Herald on Sunday say forced leave is reducing numbers in police, creating huge holes and causing problems.

Transfers between squads and districts are also on hold.

Police National Headquarters human resources manager Wayne Annan said the number of annual leave days owed to officers amounted to a debt of about $200m for the organisation.

Anyone who accrued more than six weeks’ leave – including annual leave, statutory holidays, time off for working shifts and days in lieu – were directed to take time off \”in order to get the rest and recuperation that they need\”, Annan said.

He said policing was a high-stress job and it was crucial officers took leave when it was owed to them.

\”Obviously people are devoted and are resistant to having a bit of time off.


But they need to do it.\”

A senior officer, who spoke to the Herald on Sunday on the condition of anonymity, said some officers had \”months and months\” of leave owed to them but did not take it.

\”Cops with crazy amounts are actually forced to go on leave,\” he said.

\”The reality is, staff are supposed to take their leave and when they don’t, all of a sudden they’re told ‘I don’t care what you’ve got on, you’re going on leave’.\”

The officer said police bosses put the pressure on staff to take leave over the winter months when it was \”quieter\”.

\”A lot of staff don’t want to take leave. But they have to take it for their own welfare.\”

He said the leave situation was a \”double-edged sword\”.

On one hand, cops needed to take their leave but on the other, having too many away at one time left some squads \”dissipated\”.

\”Within Auckland, probably about 10-20 per cent of staff have what we would call extremely high leave levels and that would probably represent throughout the rest of the country.

\”Certainly some squads are at reduced capacity. This is creating huge holes.\”

He said when major events happened, such as homicides, the holes in squads had to be filled by others.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor was aware of the campaign and supported officers taking time off if they were owed it.

\”A lot of officers are reluctant to take leave because it means leaving their heavy workloads for their fellow officers,\” he said.

\”We find the more reluctant people are to take leave, the more they need it. Clearly these guys have to take leave at some stage.\”

He said one of the biggest problems was court.

Officers often had their leave cancelled to attend court for cases they worked on. O’Connor said the logical solution was to have more officers.

He said since Counties Manukau got 300 extra staff there had been minimal problems with leave build-up.

By Anna Leask

Reference: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/employment/news/article.cfm?c_id=11&objectid=10662681

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