Police leaving Gwent force over pay levels

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Media captionPolice constables' pay starts at between £19,000 and £22,000

Gwent Police's chief constable has questioned whether officers are paid enough after a "significant number" left for higher paid jobs.

Jeff Farrar told BBC Wales two officers left to become train drivers - earning "about £10,000 more".

The force has announced it is recruiting 40 more constables in the next three years, on top of 60 internal posts appointed over last summer.

However, the force has lost more than 300 staff since 2011.

"I've never done this job for the money - it's not about the money, but still we should be rewarding people for what they do," argued the chief constable.

"I think if the public really saw some of the things (police officers) do face day-to-day, the financial recompense for that is not always as good as it might be."

Gareth O'Reilly, a former Gwent Police officer, left the force after 10 years for a job offer which "paid significantly more"

He said: "Trying to do more with less was very much the theme of the day.

"You're seeing a vast amount of police officers now seeking alternative appointments and seeing that the grass is greener outside of the police which you haven't in previous years, and it's a relatively new phenomenon.

"Morale has nosedived significantly, particularly in the last couple of years."

Mr Farrar said the pay issue needed to be addressed "across the country".

"I think it's got to be through national negotiating boards," he said.

The Home Office announced in 2013 that police constables' starting salary would be lowered by £4,000 to £19,000 for recruits with no policing experience.

More experienced officers, such as those who had worked as special constables or PCSOs, start on about £22,000.

However, the changes also saw the number of pay scales cut from from 10 to seven, meaning officers could reach the higher pay grade of £36,000 more quickly.

Announcing plans to recruit 40 more officers for Gwent Police, the force said the move - in addition to the summer additions - was achieved by experienced staff choosing to leave or retire.

Gwent Police also recently secured an increase in its funding from council tax payers of 3.9% in the form of a police precept - the amount added to every council tax bill to cover an element of policing costs.

Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnson said a consultation suggested residents in the force area were willing to pay an extra 12p per day to maintain a good service.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Police officers continue to earn more than other emergency services, retire earlier than most in the public sector and benefit from pensions that are among the best available."

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