Richard Hewitt, Chair of the Police Federation of The Isle of Man, 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 island.
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 and Crown Dependacies 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 whole island 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.
Our officers are exhausted, disillusioned, looking for alternative employment or re-training outside of the Constabulary.
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 Government to invest in our people, technology and infrastructure. Help us to improve and future-proof the police service.