Friday, April 19, 2024

Essex Police chief says officers are leaving for scaffolding and restaurant jobs

THE ESSEX chief constable has used his speech at a passing out parade to call on the government to increase his officers’ salaries.

Essex Police’s Ben-Julian Harrington described the cost of living crisis facing some staff, including officers who have quit for better-paid jobs in scaffolding and double glazing.

He said the force’s benevolent fund has paid out £248,000 in two years.

Police federations claim real-term pay has dropped 17% since 2000.

Mr Harrington said 300 colleagues had asked permission to work second jobs, or unpaid jobs to improve future career prospects, in the last 12 months.

“My colleagues are proud,” he said.

“They’re 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.”

Mr Harrington, who took up the post in 2018, was speaking to 84 new recruits at the force’s headquarters in Chelmsford on Friday.

Essex Police believes he is the first chief outside of the Met and National Police Chief’s Council to “reveal the extent” of how inflation is impacting officers’ lives.

He referenced the case of:

  • A detective with two years experience who was tempted back to her old job selling double glazing on commission
  • An officer who could not afford the daily commute so resigned to work in her local family restaurant
  • Another officer whose wife became pregnant and could not afford to pay his bills, so resigned to earn £250 a day as a scaffolder

“They’re not complaining because they’re not the kind of people to make a fuss,” Mr Harrington added.

“How can it be right that you can earn £20,000 more selling Nissans in Romford than working as a PC? Or be a fitness instructor or personal trainer in Epping for the same money as a highly-trained police officer?

“There is still time to fix this and allow policing to get on and invest in the experiences and skills we need in our teams to reduce crime and keep people safe.”

Essex Police has roughly 3,800 officers – its highest total since 2010 – making it one of the largest forces per head in England outside of London.

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