Opin­ion

Hampshire Life - - Inside -

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

un­der­paid?

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.