If police officers need a second job, we have reached the peak of austerity | The independent
The fate of a policeman is not happy. If Gilbert and Sullivan wrote today would they cite not only the “enterprising burglar” and his “little criminal schemes” but also the misery of payday loans and the need for a second job as a driving instructor?
According to a new investigation by the Police Federation, nearly half of its members are worried about their finances and 12 percent think they are not paid enough to cover essential expenses. Eight percent of those polled say they took a second job, compared to six percent of those polled last year. This implies that about 10,000 police officers are doing something to earn extra money, whether it’s driving a cab, doing plumbing, or training.
“[It] Obviously it cannot be fair or acceptable that those employed to keep the public safe cannot make ends meet or put food on their families’ tables, ”said John Apter, Federation President.
Apter also links government cuts to rising violent crime rates. “We are in crisis and this is a direct result of the pressure the government has exerted by cutting funding,” he said.
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It is not particularly surprising to see the Federation pushing for more money for members. The police are part of a growing chorus of public sector anger over eight long years of government-imposed wage restrictions.
Is the police department in such a disastrous state as the Federation claims? And is government austerity to blame?
The data unambiguously indicates major compression. The individual expenditure of the armed forces in England and Wales has fallen by 10-20% since 2010. The number of full-time equivalent police officers has plummeted from a peak of 144,000 in 2009 to 123 000 last year.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the median annual salary of a police officer last year was £ 40,616. In 2010 it was £ 38,464. That’s a 6% increase. But prices have risen 15 percent over the same period, which means that the average salary in real terms for agents has fallen by almost 10 percent.
Are drastic downsizing responsible for the recent increase in violent crime? Do real wage cuts create demoralized and increasingly ineffective force?
It is difficult to be categorical. Looking back over the past few decades, there is no clear correlation between police numbers and reported crimes. Police numbers and funding increased sharply in the 2000s, when recorded crime declined. But it was a continuation of a longer term trend that started in the mid-90s and has been seen across the western world.
Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows no clear association since 2010 between the magnitude of the cuts in each force and the HM Inspectorate’s key performance measures.
Yet an increase in reported stress levels among agents certainly coincides with the reductions. The recent disturbing increase in violent crimes such as robberies is also consistent with the fact that police forces are overwhelmed.
A leak internal report of the Home Office suggested that the decline in the number of police officers “may be an underlying driver” of the rise in crime. The recent independent police payroll review report found a “significant reduction” in new hires in 2016.
And the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, broke with the denials of his predecessor Amber Rudd and promised fight the Treasury for more “resources” for the police.
Other austerity policies in recent years have contributed to an increasing and more complex workload for the police. “Many of the problems the police now face – homelessness, mental illness, children leaving home – were previously taken care of by other departments of local government. points out Richard Disney of the University of Sussex, someone who has studied British police economics in depth.
Even though, generous to the government, austerity has succeeded in eliminating some ineffectiveness from the police, it is a strategy that is now quite clearly on the wane. Further funding cuts and real salary cuts for agents will really drain the service.
If the fate of the modern policeman is not happy, so will the public in the end.