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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Policing to face more cuts as Government plans to implement austerity measures across public sector

19 October 2022

Policing is facing more cuts as the Government has said it plans to implement austerity measures across the public sector following the current economic crisis.

Avon and Somerset Chair Mark Loker shares his thoughts on their plans:

“It’s personal. I know from my own upbringing what it’s like to live somewhere that isn’t feeling the benefits of growth.

“I remember the anger of people who wanted to build a better life for themselves but weren’t given the opportunities to.

“I remember the frustration of so much talent going to waste.

“This isn’t poetry or irony, this is a quote from the current Prime Minister just days after she all but sacked her friend Kwasi Kwarteng.

“But she is right, this is personal, it is a personal attack on policing. Time and again I say to brand new police officers starting off their career already earning £7,000 less than the average annual wage – “no one joins the police for wealth or health”.

“We know we are not going to earn lots; we know we are going to be hammered mentally and physically. We know this but still do it anyway, it’s a vocation and long may it continue to be.

“Long may we have the best of us wanting to be police officers, wanting to make a difference, wanting to be a barrier to crime and our communities, but at what stage does this become economically unviable?

“Police salaries should not leave our officers unable to pay the bills, to afford the luxuries in life – like food, or household energy, or petrol you know, the stuff of dreams.

“I jest, but this is the reality, this is the true contempt shown to your police service by this Government.

“They have us over a barrel because we cannot say ‘No’ or ‘Please Sir, may I have some more’ and by God does this Government take full advantage of that. And are we feeling the effects of slow starvation under this regime.

“We cannot ask for more, nor should we be silly enough to expect more. All this Government demonstrates is that it is hell bent on demanding more from the police.

“Cuts do have consequences and what this Government seems to forget is that our resources are finite. We are breaking and when I say we, I mean the humans behind the uniform, not the system.

“Government maths doesn’t seem to be up to much these days, but surely even they can work out that less does not make more and less cannot do more and that what is left is breaking. You don’t need to be a former Shadow Home Secretary to work that one out.

“Not only do we accept the risk to our lives, our health and begrudgingly our bank balances. We also accept massive restrictions on our private lives. Police officers simply do not share the human right to a private life.

“We cannot do the things others take for granted, we are unique in that and that makes policing unique. We are expected to be above the standards of normal folk on and off duty.

“We cannot strike and even if we balloted and all agreed we would want that right, the Government, much like our pay review body, can ignore us and simply say ‘tough luck’. Sadly, we are taken for granted and that is scandalous and abusive. Police pay must recognise this and remunerate accordingly, otherwise I fear for what may happen.

“Leaving police officers in relative poverty, 25% below where we should have been in the space of a decade, could lead to officers being susceptible to corruption and financial control and coercion by criminal gangs.

“Not attracting the best candidates to replace, sorry ‘uplift’, 20,000 officers because the pay and conditions are just not worth the risk and restriction on your private life. These are real risks and the real reasons there is a crisis in policing. Despite rhetoric such as “we will get Britain moving and spread the chance of a better life to everyone in this country”, that seems to be as long as you are not a police officer.

“So instead of focusing on societal issues as the cause of any crisis in policing, let’s be truthful here. We must recognise that the real reason policing is in crisis is because of a Government that simply seems to loathe the police, that goes back on its words, eases into lying about its value for and gratitude for British policing, and shows nothing but contempt for police officers – the very people wearing uniforms who keep them safe day after day. We put our lives on the line for their safety. Our reward and recognition? Abstract poverty.

“So next time someone quotes a crisis in policing, or considers police misconduct, please look no further than the Government as the reason there is a crisis in policing, not police officers. The Prime Minister is right, this is personal.”