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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Devon and Cornwall Police Federation considering providing food vouchers for officers who are struggling to make ends meet

23 June 2022

Devon and Cornwall Police Federation is considering providing food vouchers for police officers who are struggling to make ends meet.

Andy Berry, Federation Chair, told BBC Radio about the plans after speaking to officers who are unable to “put food on the table”.

He said the option is under discussion, and that the Federation was working with the force to look at other ways they can help officers during the cost of living crisis.

Andy told Michael Chequer on Radio Devon: “Isn’t it shocking that we have to talk about food banks, in one of the richest countries in the world in 2022. Having been in contact with police officers over the last few days, they are struggling off the back of a decade of pay suppression and now they are being hit by the biggest rise in food prices and petrol prices for the past 40 years. It’s tough out there for them.”

Andy said that officers, who often live where they work, were reluctant to use food banks out of shame and embarrassment.

He added: “Cops are really good people who joined the Job to do the right thing, but they are struggling and we have to be mindful that people do have a breaking point.

“We will do the best that we can for our people, across what is a very large force. But we shouldn’t be here. It is galling. When I look at police officers who are starting at the bottom, they have seen a 5% increase in pay over 12 years. The most senior constables have seen just over a 12% pay increase. MPs [have seen] 28%. That’s not ‘all in it together’, is it?”

Andy said without effective pay rises, officers were more vulnerable to exploitation.

He added: “A police officer does occupy a special position in society, they have power that other members of society don’t have, they have responsibilities and come under a huge amount of scrutiny. It’s a professional job. But the reality is that we have a situation where someone joins the job effectively earns less than someone working at McDonalds. That in itself doesn’t feel right.

“The fact that they are in financial stress brings an extra dimension and worry and when you are struggling and are financially vulnerable, you could be subject to, or prey to organised crime groups and suchlike who see you as someone they could pick off and try to bribe, or [use to obtain] policing information or what have you, and we shouldn’t put people in that position.

“If you go back to the 70s - there were significant pay rises and that came out of fear of corruption, particularly in the Met Police at the time because of the poor pay of police officers, having to go out and get second jobs and not being able to put food on the table.”

The interview took place today on BBC Radio Devon.