Chief constable demands better pay for police as officers struggle to feed their children
A leading chief constable has spoken out and demanded better pay for police as officers are struggling to feed their children.
BJ Harrington, boss of Essex police, claimed experienced officers and detectives cannot afford to carry on for much longer without fair pay.
The Chief Constable said: ‘My colleagues are proud – they are not the kind to complain but someone has to speak up for them and their families.
‘You can’t Taser the gas bill and you can’t handcuff the family food shop at Lidl. And you can’t arrest rising mortgage bills.’
Speaking to 83 new recruits, Mr Harrington, revealed more than 300 officers have asked permission to take on second jobs to make ends meet while others are leaving the force.
BJ Harrington (pictured), boss of Essex police, claimed experienced officers and detectives cannot afford to carry on for much longer without fair pay
Those quitting included a newly-promoted Sergeant who recently passed tough national investigation exams, only to resign within weeks.
Another officer resigned to work in the family restaurant nearer to home while a father-to-be policeman realised he could not afford to pay his bills on his police salary and resigned to earn £250 a day as a scaffolder
Police pay has fallen behind by 17% since 2000, recent figures from the Police Federation show.
The research found that police pay has fallen almost 20 per cent behind inflation between 2000 and 2022 – meaning that it has risen at barely half the rate of an average UK employee across the same period.
The study found that if these trends persisted over the next five years, police pay would drop a further four per cent by 2027.
Mr Harrington also shared images from a foodbank in a county police station which is being run by colleagues to ensure their fellow officers have something to eat.
He said: ‘We are a team, and I’m so proud to see that but it also breaks my heart that people who have put themselves in harm’s way to catch the worst criminals are having to rely on their mates so they can go home to a hot meal at the end of their shift.’
The chief has added that the police benevolent fund has handed out almost a quarter of a million pounds in the last two years.
Mr Harrington revealed colleges are running foodbank in a county police station to offer support to struggling officers. Pictured: A volunteer at a food bank in the North East of England
He said: ‘Seeing 84 new officers take their oath to protect communities across Essex is an incredibly proud moment but there is no doubt it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain the best new talent.
‘Police pay has fallen behind that of other sectors by 17% since the year 2000 and this is too big a gap to simply ignore.
‘I need the officers and staff across Essex to focus on helping people, keeping people safe and catching criminals. Not on whether they can afford to stay in the job. You need to be able to afford to do your job.’
He added: ‘The last police officer strike was in London in 1919, and no one who works at Essex Police would want to strike, even if they could – it goes against our values.’
The chief constable said it ‘breaks [his] heart’ to see police officers ‘having to rely on their mates so they can go home to a hot meal at the end of their shift’ (stock image)
Chief Constable Harrington, who took up his post in 2018, said that the problem they are seeing in Essex is that people are ‘leaving quietly’ and ‘moving on’ from their roles at the force.
He said: ‘We simply have to stop this silent erosion of talent and that means I simply have to speak up while there’s still time to make that stop.
Police pay has fallen behind by 17% since 2000, recent figures show (stock image)
‘That’s why I am speaking up now – we can recruit people from all walks of life, but if we lose great people then we will not be able to keep delivering the kind of service that Essex deserves.
‘In the last year, more than 300 colleagues have asked permission to do second jobs or do unpaid work to improve their prospects on top of their day job with the force. That can’t be right.’
Mr Harrington added: ‘I hope that by speaking out, it will cause others to take notice. It is precisely because officers do their duties without fuss or complaint that it is vitally important that I do make a fuss and that I do speak up.
‘I say to our decision-makers, do not ignore the 17% pay gap. It’s an impossibly big gap to bridge if you’re an experienced officer who just can’t make ends meet.
‘Please, end the silence on this issue in Westminster and set out the plan to maintain the strength that forces have built up in recent years – or risk losing it.’