The financial woes of our police force
With pressures on our police force reaching a record high, almost half admit to worrying about their financial situation… ALICE COOKE asks why are our boys in blue overworked and
Our police force is overstretched and underpaid. That’s according to a recent survey of more than 27,000 personnel by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).
Shockingly, 7.8% of police officers who took the survey admitted to having to take on an additional job to full-time police work to make ends meet. This is up from 6.3% last year.
This isn’t against any police rules as long as permission is sought before secondary employment is undertaken. But surely it has wide-reaching implications for the mental state of those who already have the task of policing the county.
It has previously been reported in the national press that officers work in a variety of roles including taxi driving, photography, plumbing, gardening and beauty therapy. Take taxi driving as a stand-out example there – that alone is an exhausting profession, and the officer in question is then expected to be not only present but very much alert during the normal working day.
But it gets worse…nearly half (44.8%) of those polled said they worry about the state of their personal finances either every day or almost every day.
More than one in nine (11.8%) either never or almost never had enough money to cover all of their essentials, while 3.8% had taken out a payday loan at least once in the last year.
John Apter, chair of the
PFEW, said the results “make grim reading”. He added: “Our members are suffering from even worse financial pressures than last year, with some appearing to be in dire straits. They are under immense pressure to deliver, with dwindling resources and rising crime leading to a demand for our services that has never been higher.”
Responding to the suggestion that the force is not alone in struggling to pay its staff adequately, he said: “All they want is to be adequately paid for the job that they do. We know officers are struggling and some have had to resort to food vouchers and other welfare schemes. This clearly cannot be acceptable that those employed to keep the public safe cannot make ends meet or put food on tables for their families.”
But one Hampshire man responded to this by saying: “They can thank their lucky stars they don’t work as lorry drivers then, I’m on £8.03 an hour.” While another local resident was more sympathetic. He said: “This is bad. The police force are fundamentally important in this country and are employed to protect us. This is a big responsibility and they should be adequately paid to carry out their responsibility without any financial concerns. Let’s face it, MPs can! It’s just a matter of time before a member of the police force loses their life or is unable to protect the life of a member of the public due to being too tired as a result of driving a taxi last night. The government should take notice of this and do something about it.”
In July the government announced police officers will be awarded a pay rise of 2% in 2018 to 2019 - but the PFEW labelled the increase “derisory”, and for the record, so do I.
A Home Office spokeswoman said at the time the rise was announced: “We are grateful to all police officers for the incredible job they do - and will continue to ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
“The police pay award for 2018/19 represents the highest consolidated pay award since 2010. And the number of people joining police forces is at a 10-year high which demonstrates policing is still a desirable and sought-after career.”
Really? Are you sure about that? Risking life and limb and not even being rewarded adequately as to be able to put food on the table?
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for pay and conditions Francis Habgood said in response to the survey’s findings: “In the past few years, we have seen increasing demand on policing with rising overall recorded crime levels, more complex crimes being committed, a growing terrorist threat and, more than ever, the police being called as a last resort when other agencies lack their own capacity.
“We know that hard-working police officers are feeling the strain. Limited pay increases in recent years mean that some officers struggle to keep their heads above water financially. Police forces actively encourage officers to seek support if they run into financial difficulties and these arrangements are being strengthened.”
But I for one won’t be holding my breath on the ‘strengthening’, because frankly where is the money going to come from?
Writer and journalist, Alice Cooke shares her opinions on the latest news stories