Fears Over 25,000 Cancelled Police Rest Days
Heart can exclusively reveal Police officers in Scotland are owed more than 150 years in rest days.
Our investigation has discovered Police Scotland owes more than 25,000 rest days to its Constables, Sergeants, Inspectors and Chief Inspectors.
The Scottish Police Federation - the organisation which represents rank and file officers around the country - is slamming the figures.
General Secretary Calum Steele said: "The figures in their own right are simply shocking. The police service is woefully understaffed. It's over stretched. It's being asked to do far too much with the resources that are available to it and what these figures show is that it is actually front line working police officers that are carrying the brunt for the short falls that they've inherited."
Police Scotland insists the figures are in line with police regulations.
Force bosses can cancel leave for things like training and court appearances.
Mr Steele continued: "It's absolutely unforgiveable. The fact that the police service has got to a situation where it owes over 25,000 rest days to the police officers in Scotland is simply frightening. It's also the equivalent of 150 working years off for time due. I mean that in itself is something that I believe most people would find completely unbelievable"
The data we have obtained says "As of January 2016, 32,351 rest days remained to be re-rostered for serving Constables, Sergeants, Inspectors andChief Inspectors since the inception of Police Scotland, compared to 36,070 days in January 2015 for all ranks. In March 2016, the figure stood at 25,036 days."
The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie said: "It's quite astonishing and reveals a deeper problem that exists within Police Scotland that so many rest days have been cancelled reveals the real pressure that not only are the force is under but also individual officers are under too. And they've been stretched really to a point of breaking and I think we need to step in to make sure we can relieve that pressure so that officers can get their life back.
"If officers are tired, if they're exhausted, if they're getting used to a point that's unacceptable then of course that's going to impact on morale and then also on our communities. So what we need to do is to make sure that our officers are healthy, fighting fit, rested appropriately so they can do their job properly. And that's the best way of protecting our communities."
Police Scotland refused an interview on the matter.
Peter Blair, Police Scotland Head of Resource Management said: "The amount of days owed works out at well under two days per officer therefore it is utterly misleading to suggest that Police Scotland owes its officers many years worth of time. When an officer is required to work on a rest day it is re-rostered if officers are given more than 15 days' notice. If less than 15 days then officers up to and including the rank of Sergeant are entitled to claim overtime in the form of time off in lieu or payment. This is in line with Police Regulations, the re-rostering of rest days is a local operational policing decision."
Our reporter Connor Gillies interviewed Calum Steele and Willie Rennie. You can listen here: