A BAN on holiday leave has left morale among Gloucestershire's police officers at 'rock bottom', according to the body which represents them.

Ahead of a planned badger cull in the county, officers have been told that they are not allowed to take any leave until January.

A spokesman for the force said the decision to restrict leave was 'regrettable' but unavoidable given the 'increased demands' being placed on the force as a result of the cull.

However, chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation Tracy De Young has attacked the decision and claimed that officers are being treated unfairly.

"There are a lot of officers who haven't had the opportunity to take any holiday during the summer period because leave was banned during the Olympics," she said.

"Rest days have also been cancelled because of the Cheltenham races, the torch relay, the diamond jubilee and the Royal International Air Tattoo.

"Because of budget cuts we can only just about cope with normal policing but we do not have the resources to cover these major events."

Mrs De Young added that the local Police Federation had received more calls from members complaining about the holiday ban than about reforms to their pensions.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: "We can confirm that we will not be authorising any further annual leave or time off requests for police officers, except in exceptional circumstances, until the New Year.

"This is regrettable, but is standard practice when planning for events which may place increased demands upon our resources.

"Any leave already booked will be honoured. The situation will be kept constantly under review."


* This week anti-cull campaigners called for a boycott of products from Duchy Originals, the food brand launched by the Prince of Wales, following reports that in 2005 he lobbied the Government for a badger cull. It comes as part of an ongoing campaign to name and shame supermarkets selling dairy products from the cull zones.