Definition Of Exigency Of Duty

Under Regulation 22 and Annex E, officers are entitled to know twelve months in advance when their Rest Days (and Bank Holidays) will be. With at least three months notice they should know what their start and finish times should be for their duty days.

Thereafter, “Where alterations are made to an annual duty roster after its publication, these changes must arise from the exigencies of duty, (unless they are made at the officer’s own request or have otherwise been agreed with the Joint Branch Board).” [PNB Circular 86/9 Annex B].

The term ‘exigencies of duty’ appears on a number of occasions in Police Regulations and Determinations (2003) and is used in such disparate areas as hours of duty and expenses claims. As such it is always open to a degree of subjective interpretation. The most frequent reference to the term however is in relation to the drawing up of duty rosters and subsequent changes thereto. It is this area that creates the greatest opportunity for dispute between officers and duty planners.

It is clearly not possible to produce an exhaustive list of all the potential reasons that may necessitate changes. By way of example, however, unforeseen public order situations, court attendance and essential training would justify changes to rostered duties. Repeating annual events where policing demand can be foreseen in advance such as New Years Eve, Halloween, Bonfire Night etc would clearly not (unless there was late notice intelligence which radically changed the threat assessment for the event) and nor would large scale festivals and events which are known about well in advance. Bedford River Festival, Luton Carnival would be good examples.

The underlying principle being where major public events are foreseeable in advance it is reasonable that officers have their duties planned with good notice. It is neither good resource management or conducive to officers work / life balance to have duties for such foreseeable events notified close to the event.

The term ‘exigencies of duty’ should be interpreted as relating to situations where a pressing demand, need or requirement is perceived that is not reasonably avoidable and necessitates a change of roster. Such pressing demand, need or requirement should not have been reasonably foreseeable at the time the roster was published.

The following are examples which generally would be considered as ‘exigencies of duty':

  • Unforeseen public order requirements
  • Court attendance
  • Intelligence led crime operations
  • Essential training
  • Short notice unforeseen absences from critical duty cover (e.g. due to sickness above normal levels or compassionate leave)

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