Working hours and performance objectives for police officers should be normalized, the Taiwan Police Union said yesterday, calling for the hiring of additional officers to remedy chronic overwork.
“Work hours should be normalized so that police officers can freely exercise their right to decide whether to work overtime. Even though officers are supposed to work only eight hours a day ‘in principle,’ the reality is that they now work a minimum of 12 hours per day, as overtime has become normalized,” Taiwan Police Union executive director Hsiao Nung-yu (蕭農瑀) said.
Most police forces put a ceiling on the amount of pay or compensatory leave that can be provided for working overtime, instead giving “good service” awards to officers who go over the ceiling, Hsiao said.
She attributed the additional overtime to a chronic failure to replace retiring police officers.
“Given the amount of work, there should be about 100,000 police officers nationwide, but there are only about 60,000, with plans to increase the number to about 70,000,” she said, adding that the 100,000 figure was based on reference standards for local police forces set by the Ministry of the Interior.
Performance standards calling for more cases to be solved are also unreasonable, she said, calling on the National Police Agency to hold talks with lower-ranking officers on revising the standards.
Frequent orders to solve a fixed number of certain case types within a short time span also puts pressure on officers to concentrate on cases involving illegal firearms, stolen vehicles and gambling dens, only reporting their successes when they receive updated orders and quotas, she said.
While the union is seeking talks with the National Police Agency on improving working conditions, it is technically an association devoted to protecting police officers’ labor rights, as it is illegal for police officers to join a formal union.