Cost of living: Police officers 'struggling' with low pay

  • Published
Media caption,
Finances: 'Could your family live on £1,200 a month?'

A police officer has told the home secretary of her struggle to survive due to rising living costs.

Det Con Vicky Knight of North Wales Police outlined her finances at the annual Police Federation conference.

Giving an example of a probationary officer's pay, she said Priti Patel was shocked when she asked her if she could live on £1,200 a month.

Ms Patel said pay and conditions was something she was "committed" to working with the federation on.

Det Con Knight - who has 23 years of service - described how she had to borrow from her mother to pay for school dinners and fuel for her car as she had no money left at the end of the month.

After paying professional subscriptions and pension, she said she takes home £2,300 a month and works overtime twice a month to "make ends meet".

Because wages are measured before pension deductions, she does not receive any support apart from child family allowance.

She told the conference: "Apart from that I'm on my own."

West Midlands Police Federation chairman Rich Cooke urged Ms Patel to up wages.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been urged to increase police officers' wages

Describing how she is paid "a couple of hundred pounds a month more than the workers in McDonald's flipping burgers", Det Con Knight said that ahead of her most recent pay day she had to borrow £40 from her mother so she could put fuel in her car and buy food for her son's school lunches "because I had no money left at the end of the month".

She was met with applause when she said: "I work with the most vulnerable members of our community and I love my job.

"However, if the rate of interest goes up and I can't pay my mortgage and I can't pay the fuel, I'm not going to be able to continue to come to work.

"I went to see an accountant and the advice was 'leave the police, work for 22 hours a week and claim benefits and you will be better off'. How can that be right?

"I tell this story not because I'm here for sympathy, I just want to be heard. I stand here to represent myself and many people in the force that are like me.

"We are desperately struggling to do the job that we love and to make ends meet at home. So I need you to be on our team and to help us, to represent us... to get us fair pay."

Image caption,
Det Con Vicky Knight asked Priti Patel whether she could survive on a probationary officer's wages

Mr Cooke was met with cheers from the audience when he told Ms Patel: "It's about time you and your colleagues put your money where your mouth is and did something about the terrible state that our colleagues are finding themselves in."

Ms Patel thanked Det Con Knight for sharing her story, adding: "I think it just really illustrates so strongly and powerfully why we need to actually find solutions to pay issues and actually give you the support that you rightly deserve.

"We have to move this forward. You have that commitment from me, you absolutely do."