A POLICE commissioner has defended his decision to employ specialist investigators on zero hour contracts despite signing up to a Living Wage campaign.

Barry Coppinger decided to advertise the jobs following ‘the unprecedented level of serious investigations’ that Cleveland Police has had to handle in the last year.

The former Labour councillor has regularly spoken out about people earning a living wage but maintains the jobs are aimed at a specific market and would not expect anyone to work solely for the force.

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Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “This is specialised work, suitable only for appropriately qualified and experienced applicants. The extra staff are being recruited to deal with the unprecedented level of serious investigations required over the last 12 months.

“Cleveland Police won’t be expecting successful applicants to work solely for them, therefore this is a long way from the kind of zero-hours contracted employment where people have no idea from one day to the next when they are working.”

The job description, which is posted on the force’s website, states that the salary range is £21,309 to £25,704, and clearly states that it is on a zero hour contract.

Last year, Mr Coppinger signed the force up to the Living Wage campaign and has spoken at union meetings and Labour forums about people’s salaries and the impact of austerity on living standards.

Explaining the reasoning behind his decision to advertise the jobs, he added: “We have introduced a number of measures to ensure that major incidents are managed professionally and effectively. Measures include allocating experienced senior officers as advisers to all murders, and a weekly resourcing meeting to review staffing on major incidents.

“It was agreed that a temporary team would be created using staff from commands across the force and that additional funding would be provided to recruit “agency” staff, similar to models used by other forces.

“We made the decision to create a register of staff who would be available to the force to use on investigations during peak demand. The staff would be directly recruited by Cleveland Police.

“The terms of contracts issued to successful applicants (zero hours) mean that we are not tied into paying people during quieter periods when there is no requirement for additional staff.

“We have been transparent from the outset about the fact that this is a zero hours contract and we anticipate the posts will appeal to a variety of highly experienced and appropriately qualified people who will add significant value to any major incident investigation.”