5 December 2022
Tiff Lynch, Deputy National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, speaks about the impact of the current cost of living crisis on our members and policing in general, as we enter a winter of discontent.
It is no secret that the current cost of living crisis is alarming and affecting everyone across the UK.
Policing is amongst one of many professions being drastically impacted by the soaring rate of inflation due to the years of pay and funding cuts the service has endured over the last decade.
Recent statistics released by ONS show that around 9 in 10 (89%) adults in Great Britain continue to report that their cost of living has increased, equal to around 46 million people. Nearly a quarter of adults reported that it was very difficult to pay their usual household bills and 30% of those paying off a mortgage and/or loan or rent or shared ownership said it was very difficult to afford housing costs. 3% said they are behind on payments for their rent or mortgage. These figures are staggering and extremely concerning.
Though the cost-of-living crisis is a national issue, policing is being hit especially hard. Travel costs are increasing, impacting officers travelling to their place of work, house purchase prices, mortgage rates and rental fees continue to climb meaning our members are struggling to keep roofs over their heads. This goes hand in hand with an expected winter of discontent, with strikes taking place across a number of professions. Our members will be drafted in to cover these gaps in service, stretching capacity beyond its’ limit and increasing the pressures placed upon them, causing detrimental effects on their own health and wellbeing.
Outstanding rest days and annual leave days owed to officers are mounting up, following recent protests that have required a higher number of officers to be on duty at any one time combined with large-scale events such as Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. It is of considerable concern that officers won’t be able to take this leave before the end of the financial year, meaning they are not getting the rest that they are owed and that they need.
Policing recent protests has been almost constant, with many London based teams having to make sudden decisions to implement 12-hour shifts to safeguard the public and protestors themselves, whilst receiving constant judgement in the media as they do so. We have seen colleagues from other regions having to fill the shortfall, supporting outside of their jurisdiction to assist in these situations as there are a limited number of officers with the requisite skills to handle these situations.
Our officers are exhausted and disillusioned.
As the winter of discontent plays out in front of us, we need to do all we can to step up and support those who look after us on a daily basis, no matter the cost. Government must consider and plan to support all emergency services, not forgetting those who provide relief to those who enact their industrial rights. Otherwise, we risk fuelling the decimation of the policing profession, the emergency service we call upon as the first and last resort, the emergency service that keeps the public and our communities safe, the emergency service being repeatedly taken for granted, the emergency service that continues to hold the line.
We implore the Government to invest in our people, technology and infrastructure. Help us to improve and future-proof the police service.