This week it was revealed that almost one in 12 police officers have taken a second job to make ends meet.
The survey, undertaken by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), revealed the shocking impact of years of Tory austerity cuts, plus the public sector pay cap, on police officers’ lives.
The fact that police officers have to get the permission of their force to secure a second job also suggests that many more police officers might have considered this avenue than the survey suggests.
Officers already work demanding shifts, witnessing and dealing with situations that, thanks to them, most of us are protected from.
Forces across the country are saying the demand on their services due to other services being cut back is unprecedented.
Against a backdrop of rising violent crime and dealing with terrorism threats, our officers need their down time. They shouldn’t have to be forced into this terrible situation of taking on second jobs, but sadly they have to.
It is a shameful indictment of the Government’s attitude to public sector workers that, according to the survey, almost half (44%) of police officers worry about finances daily or nearly every day and the vast majority (88%) do not feel fairly paid.
If these police officers were paid a fair wage for the difficult work they do, they wouldn’t need to resort to the extreme measures in this survey where in some areas of the country they have reported using foodbanks and taking out pay day loans.
Police officers make sacrifices every single day to keep us all safe, yet last month, the Government announced that, after years of a pay freeze, they would be awarded a rise of just 2% in 2018-19.
This is simply not good enough. It does not nearly make up for fall in police officer pay by 18% in real terms since 2010. It is no surprise that three quarters of police officers surveyed said they felt financially worse off than they did five years ago, right across our public sector the Government is ignoring the growing gulf between income and the cost of living.
These cuts are yet more broken promises from the Tories who said they would protect police funding. Instead, police budgets have been cut by £2.7billion in real terms since 2010 and officer numbers have fallen to their lowest level in 30 years with 21,000 less officers.
The truth of the matter is: cuts have consequences. Earlier this year it was revealed that in South Tyneside throughout the whole of 2017 there were 15,065 crimes of burglary, robbery, criminal damage or arson and just 6.19% of these were solved.
In South Tyneside we have some of the best police officers in the country, I know - I have worked with them both in my former career and as an MP. That is why I am proud of Labour’s commitment to increase officer levels and scrap the pay cap.
Our police work day and night, above and beyond, every single day of the year protecting us and making a difference in our communities, it is just a shame this Government aren’t as committed as they are.