Chief Constable BJ Harrington of Essex Police has expressed his concern about the pay of police officers in the UK. His comments come after revelations that more than 300 officers have requested permission to work second jobs to make ends meet, and experienced officers are leaving the force. In some cases, salaries have failed to keep pace with the cost of living, with pay of more than 17% falling behind inflation since 2000. If current trends continue, police pay may be reduced by a further 4% by 2027.
Harrington called for the pay inequality to be addressed and accused decision-makers of ignoring the issue. He believes that officers and their families are struggling to make ends meet with rising bills for basic necessities, even with years of experience within the police. He also revealed how a food bank at a county police station is ensuring that officers have food to eat.
The pay cut has already caused experienced officers and recent recruits to quit. One sergeant who had recently passed the national investigation exams resigned within weeks due to the low pay. Another officer found work in the family business and a new father-to-be policeman discovered he could only cover his bills by quitting to become a scaffolder earning £250 a day.
The pay gap has also affected morale for the police force. A survey of US police officers, cited in The Conversation, found that conditions, including morale, explain about 70% of the variation in outcomes among police forces. Low pay levels may lead to decreased job satisfaction, which, in turn, leads to burnout among officers. Burnt-out, fatigued police officers can set the stage for a breakdown of procedural justice and, ultimately, a lack of trust in communities.