Officers working overtime cannot continue to be deployed to make up for falling police officer numbers, the Scottish Police Chief has warned.
At a Scottish Police Authority (SPA) meeting on Thursday, Sir Iain Livingstone said the force needed to assess the sustainability of high levels of overtime.
A financial report submitted to the SPA projected there will be 452 fewer officials than previous budget assumptions had predicted.
And there is a risk that overtime hours will continue to increase to maintain service and operational levels if the number of officers continues to fall below forecast assumptions.
Sir Iain previously expressed concerns that the number of officers could fall further as a result of real funding cuts of around £66million.
The review of financial performance presented by James Gray, the SPA’s Chief Financial Officer, forecast that the first quarter would be under budget at £2.3m, mainly due to the reduced headcount, leaving more than 21 Millions of pounds will be saved.
However, this underspending is offset by an increase in police officers’ overtime hours, which cost £11.9million.
Addressing the overtime concerns, Sir Iain said: “We are seeing the impact on our service of having fewer officers in a number of operational areas, including a responsiveness to calls from the public.
“Our forecast for the year shows we will operate with an average of over 450 officers below our budgeted deployment of 17,134.
“We cannot continue to work overtime and place this burden on the officers and staff of Police Scotland.”