THE police budget for overtime in North Yorkshire has been slashed, after a massive overspend last year.

A recent audit and inspection report showed North Yorkshire Police spent more than £750,000 on overtime last year, on top of what it had already budgeted for.

The report showed overtime paid to officers in the last financial year topped pre-allocated spending by £605,000 and overtime paid to police staff and PCSOs was £166,000 more than was expected.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police Authority, the body charged with securing efficient and effective policing of the county, said the extra overtime was due in part to the significant amount of major incidents police had dealt with over the year.

These included the arson attack which killed jockeys Jamie Kyne and Jan Wilson in Norton, the murder of Shaozhe Wang, whose body was found in the canal near Burn, Selby, and the search for missing York chef Claudia Lawrence.

The report said the overspending on overtime was countered by the force spending less than expected on overall salaries, and saving more than £1 million on total employee costs.

Elsewhere, the audit showed the force spent £366,000 less than expected on salaries.

A spokesman for the force said there were no plans to review the overtime policy.

Chief finance officer Joanna Carter said overtime figures had been greatly reduced in recent years.

She said: “We had managed to reduce overtime by almost half from 2005/2006 to 2008/2009.

“However, the requirement of officers to deal with a number of major incidents has seen the figure rise again.

“In 2010/11 the budget level for overtime has been reduced and work is under way to look at both the processes in place and various levels of demand to manage within budget for this year.”

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that in 2009/2010 £4 million was spent on overtime, compared with £2.5 million in 2008/2009 – a rise of 37.5 per cent.