Officers on Restricted Duties Should Be Employed as Civilians

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It has always been an issue in the police service that those on "light duties" were taking the plum jobs, working 9-5 in a warm, dry office while their colleagues risked life, limb and pneumonia on the streets in all weathers. Yet the problem has become more acute in recent years.

When I joined the police in 1976, if you dialled 999 or went to a police station's front counter, you used to speak to a police officer. So when an officer under my command lost the use of his arm in a motorcycle accident, I was happy to use him in the control room where he could be as productive as the able-bodied police officer who would otherwise have taken his place.

Since then, members of civilian staff have increasingly replaced police officers in both operational and support roles. The number of "holes" that police officers on restricted duties can be put into has diminished as a result. With cheaper, civilian alternatives now available, it is no longer cost-effective to employ police officers in many of these positions. Police officers are paid a premium because they have powers and responsibilities beyond those of their non-police colleagues. Yet the premium is still paid, even if they are employed in a support role that does not require the exercise of those powers. …