Taxpayers hit with £500,000 bill for salaries of suspended police

Police accused of misconduct in West Yorkshire have been paid more than half a million pounds to stay at home for up to three years.

A total of £513,114.58 was shared between 28 officers and staff suspended on full pay by the force over the last three years, figures released after a Freedom of Information request show.

The huge sum bumps up the total paid by Yorkshire’s police forces, health trusts and councils to suspended workers- reported by the Yorkshire Post last month - to more than £8m.

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More than £65,000 was paid to one police community support officer (PCSO) who was suspended for at least three years on a salary of between £18,721 and £20,734. And more than £55,000 was paid to a civilian worker within the same pay grade who was suspended for between two-and-a-half and three years.

The suspensions also included a sergeant or inspector who was paid more than £38,000 and another officer of the same rank who received nearly £28,000.

Jon Christopher, chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it was appalling suspensions had been allowed to drag on so long at such a cost.

“It is an awful lot of money, especially in the present climate - but in any climate really,” he said.

“We find a lot of cases take an inordinate amount of time when really they should be moved on quicker so officers can return to work and be part of West Yorkshire Police again to do their job and help their community.”

Lengthy suspensions have a huge impact on officers, even if they go on to be cleared of wrongdoing, Mr Christopher said.

“It breaks them to be honest - they are never the same,” he said.

“It makes them extremely bitter and in most cases people tend to withdraw.

“The rumour squad in any large organisation always goes into overdrive so there’ll be the truth and then everybody puts a different slant on it. It has a huge impact on individuals and there is a massive knock-on effect on their families and colleagues as well.”

West Yorkshire Police refused to disclose the reasons or dates it had suspended staff or the outcomes of any disciplinary proceedings.

A spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police expects the highest levels of honesty and integrity from officers and staff and we deal decisively with allegations of inappropriate or criminal behaviour.

“Inevitably, that means we often have to take steps while investigations are under way, such as putting someone on restricted duties, or if warranted, suspending them. That decision isn’t taken lightly, as people can only be suspended on full pay.

“We try to resolve issues in the shortest time possible, however, where criminal activity is alleged, this must be thoroughly investigated and if appropriate, put before the courts. Further discipline proceedings can only begin when that process is complete.

“It is the case that some suspensions, usually relating to serious and complex criminal allegations, can be prolonged, we make every effort to speed up the process. Most suspensions are for weeks or a few months rather than years.

“We understand the concerns about public money, but people must be confident that we will always make the right decision, in the public interest and sometimes that means suspension is the best option.”

The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that the region’s police forces, health trusts and councils had admitted paying out more than £7.5m between them to staff suspended on full pay over the last three years.

Some were paid up to £100,000 while investigations went on as long as three years into allegations of misconduct ranging from sexual assault, maltreatment of patients and drug and alcohol abuse.

Unions and campaigners branded it a “staggering” waste of public money.

Comment: Page 12.