A chief constable is pushing for a pay rise for officers to halt the “silent erosion of talent” in his force, as he described how some had already left for better paid work as scaffolders or to sell double glazing.
Essex Police chief Ben-Julian Harrington said a number of people had left the force citing financial reasons.
Among them were an officer who realised he could not afford to pay his bills after his wife fell pregnant, so he resigned to earn £250 a day as a scaffolder.
Another officer could not afford the daily commute and resigned to work in the family restaurant nearer to home, and a detective with two years experience was tempted back to her old job selling double glazing, and commission.
“People are simply leaving quietly, they’re not complaining because they’re not the kind of people to make a fuss,” Mr Harrington will say, in a speech to new recruits at a passing-out parade on Friday.
“They are moving on, silently, proud of their service, but 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.
“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?”
Mr Harrington will say that colleagues have set up foodbanks at police stations to help fellow officers.
“It 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,” he will say.
In the last year more than 300 staff asked permission to do second jobs or unpaid work to improve their prospects on top of their day job with the force, he added.
And he will say that £248,000 has been paid out to Essex Police officers by the Benevolent Fund in the last two years.
Mr Harrington will say that “police pay has fallen behind that of other sectors by 17% since the year 2000” and it is “becoming increasingly difficult to keep the best new talent”.
“I need the officers and staff across Essex to focus on helping people, keeping people safe and catching criminals,” he will say. “Not on whether they can afford to stay in policing.
“We have invested in our numbers, our force, our kit and capabilities and that is amazing.
“But you can’t Taser the gas bill.
“You can’t handcuff the family food shop and you can’t arrest the rise in your rent or mortgage.
“You need to be able to afford to do your job.”
He will say that he hopes 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,” Mr Harrington will say.
“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.
“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.”