Police force 'threatens to take 999 call workers to court' after overpaying them £1million in computer blunder

Police emergency call workers say they are being threatened with court action after being accidentally overpaid by nearly £1million.

A computer blunder meant some 500 staff handling 999 calls received £976,574 more than they should have done between 2013 and last year.

Now their bosses at the Met Police in London are asking for all the money to be repaid.

Workers say they never noticed the overpayments because their wages varied depending on shift patterns.

But they claim they have been warned they face County Court Judgements if they fail to give the cash back.

One source said: “This has caused astronomic stress, and our job dealing with life and death situations is stressful enough. I’m being bullied for something that’s not my fault.”

Ironically the long-running overpayments came after a new computer system was introduced to reduce costs as Britain’s biggest force reeled under huge government budget cuts.

The Met has faced massive budget cuts and, ironically, introduced the computer system to save money
(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Workers say the new system could not calculate the correct amounts for part-time workers, whose rates changed for weekends and nights.

A shift worker who got £5,000 too much but only found out a few months ago said: “I never really noticed an odd overpayment here and there.

“I could get paid £1,100 one month and £1,800 another simply because of the way the shifts fall.”

The huge amount overpaid in total was disclosed in documents released under Freedom of Information laws.

A source, who described the payroll system as “out of control”, claimed there had already been several employment tribunals which had decided in the workers’ favour.

But oral warnings about possible legal action were still said to have been made by the force’s audit team at Hendon, north-west London.

The source said: “In many cases, it has been decided the person doesn’t need to give back the overpayment.

“But I’ve been threatened with a County Court Judgement. It’s totally heartless – I’m being punished for a mistake that was not mine.”

The Met said: “We seek to recover all overpayments, normally over the same period of time they were made.

“County Court Judgements would very much be considered a last resort and only where an individual has repeatedly failed to engage or agree a repayment process.”

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